UK shoppers put a record amount on plastic last year with £321 billion spent using debit and credit cards.
APACS, the UK payment association, said the total for 2006 was up 9 per cent on the £295 billion recorded in the previous year.
Consumers are now spending more than three times as much on plastic than they were a decade ago, with the payment method continuing to dominate over cash.
Debit cards have seen the greatest hike over the last 10 years, with total payment values rising by 427 per cent over the period, from £37 billion in 1996 to £195 billion last year.
It now accounts for almost two thirds of the total plastic card spend. Credit cards paid for £126 billion worth of goods in 2006, up from £50 billion in 1996.
Plastic beats cash
For the second consecutive year, the amount put on plastic exceeded cash, with the gap between the payment methods widening.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, said: ‘The last ten years have seen a rapid rise in the popularity of plastic, with debit cards showing particularly strong growth.
‘Consumers enjoy the ease and convenience plastic cards bring, and today, most retailers and supermarkets take plastic, as do an increasing number of professional service providers.’
She added: ‘Over the next ten years it is expected that spending on plastic cards will continue to dominate the payments arena, accounting for 89 per cent of growth in UK payment volumes by 2016.’
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