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UK Credit Card Holders Believe Physical Cards Will Be Extinct Within 12 Years, the personal financial comparison website, has published a report finding the average credit card holder in the UK believes they will continue to use a physical card for just nine and a half more years.

This figure is quite consistent across all age groups, ranging from millennials who expect to keep using them for under nine years, all the way through to the silent generation who estimate the figure at around 11 and a half years.

Across all ages, 37 per cent of card holders believe they will stop using their physical card within five years, while a further one in 10 (nine per cent) only use their card via their phone or watch (via payment methods like Apple or Google Pay), and four per cent use virtual credit cards like Bits.

This means that half (50 per cent) of all credit card customers don’t plan to be using a physical card at all within five years.

While those among Gen Z and millennials who have a physical card expect to use it for about as long as their older counterparts, there are noticeably fewer of them. When asked what method they would be most likely to use to pay for an expensive item (£100+), just one in 10 (nine per cent) and one in eight (12 per cent) respectively would use a physical credit card, as opposed to three in 10 (29 per cent) baby boomers and two in five (41 per cent) of the silent generation.

In terms of the number of cards held, figures from UK Finance show there were 59 million credit cards in issue in February 2022, down from 63 million in 2021 and 66 million in 2020.

Physical credit cards also appear to be losing their prestige with consumers. When asked what they consider to be the coolest method of paying, the same survey respondents said that paying with a phone or watch were the coolest ways (18 per cent). In contrast, metal, personalised and see-through cards got just six per cent each, gold cards got five per cent and vertical cards got four per cent.

Commenting on the findings, Rachel Wait who wrote an industry report featuring experts’ insights alongside the new research for said:

“It is clear that credit cards don’t hold the same cachet with consumers as they once did. Not only are they declining in use but the fact that consumers actively find paying with a phone or watch to be cooler shows they are no longer a status symbol.

“Although currently just four per cent of Brits use virtual credit cards instead of physical ones, this number will no doubt grow as consumers are drawn to their new features and the convenience of using your phone for everything.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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