Brits spent more than £600 billion on cards last year, with the number of purchases made with plastic soaring thanks in part to the rapidly growing popularity of contactless payments.
Cards were used for just shy of 13 billion transactions in 2014, up 12% on the previous year, thanks to an increasing willingness to use plastic rather than cash for low value purchases, figures from the UK Cards Association show.
More contactless transactions took place in the first nine months of 2014 than in the previous six years. During last year 319 million payments, worth £2.3 billion, were tap and pay.
A major driver for contactless has been its introduction on London's public transport system; there were 17 million tap and pay bus journeys in 2014 and 14 million rail trips. The association expects the trend to continue as the contactless spending limit rises to £30 and the popularity of mobile and wearable NFC payments takes off.
Debit cards remain the most common payment cards in consumers’ wallets, with around 91% of adults - or 48.5 million people - holding at least one. On average, each debit card was used to make 106 purchases in 2014, spending just over £4500, up10% on 2013.
Just over 31 million people hold a credit card, about 60% of the UK adult population. Credit is more popular among older Brits, with around three fifths of card holders in the UK aged over 45.
Overall, three in every four pounds spent at UK retailers were on a debit or credit card last year, up 10 percentage points since 2009. Just over 1.1 million outlets now accept cards, an increase of 4.2% on 2013.
Online shopping is also now a major part of consumer spending, representing £21 in every £100 spent on cards at UK retailers. Over a quarter of the total number of online transactions were at entertainment retailers.
With plastic booming, the overall amount withdrawn from cash machines actually fell 2.3% to £196 billion and the amount of cashback in shops also dropped, by 8.8%.
The trend is expected to continue, with the association forecasting a 66% rise in card payments in the next ten years to 19.2 million by 2024. Debit card payment value is forecast to rise to £718 billion by 2024, up by 76%.
Richard Koch, head, policy, UK Cards Association, says: "With more places now accepting cards, contactless payments and the rise in online shopping the large jump in card spending we saw last year looks set to continue."