UK credit card market report 2024

According to the FICO UK Credit Card Market Report for January 2024, consumer credit behaviour followed typical start-of-year patterns.

Spending fell by 8.6% post-Christmas, while consumers increased their payments to balance by 2.7%.

Credit card providers will, however, be encouraged by the first increase in payments to balance since July 2023.


Average card spend dropped by 8.6% month-on-month, equating to an average spend of £775
Reflecting continued high prices, year-on-year spend in January was 2.4% higher than 2023
Increased payments to balance led to a 0.7% drop in average card balances, which now stands at £1,770
Fewer cardholders missed one card payment in January compared to December
There was an increase in the number of cardholders who missed two and three payments in January – 12.6% and 1.4% – respectively
The percentage of accounts using the cash limit decreased for the fourth month in a row after peaking in September

After increased activity in the lead-up to Christmas, there is usually a drop in spending at the start of the new year; 2024 has followed this trend. What credit card providers will now be looking at is how well card users will manage the increased debt incurred over the festive season and the data suggests that consumers focused on paying off credit card balances in January.

Alongside an 8.6% drop in spending, there was a 2.7% increase in payments to balance compared to December, with 37.62% of balances being paid in the first month of the new year.

This is the first increase in payments to balance since July 2023.

Historical data shows that the percentage of payments to balance usually drops in February; it will therefore be interesting to see whether payments continue to trend back down to pre-COVID levels of around 30% in the coming months.

When it comes to missed payments, the percentage of customers missing one card payment was 1.2% lower month-on-month in January.

However, this followed the significant 14.8% increase in December. Combined with seasonal spending, this meant that customers missing two payments rose significantly in January: 12.6% month-on-month.

Customers missing three payments also rose, with a 1.4% month-on-month increase and 4.7% year-on-year.

The average balance on accounts with missed payments is another important trend lenders will want to track over the coming months and one which currently appears to be influenced by the continued high cost of living.

The average balance of customers missing one payment increased by 2.9% month-on-month in January, to £2,235.

This is 9.3% higher than the same period the previous year.

The average balance of two missed payments in January was 1% lower month-on-month, but 8.4% higher than in 2023. And while there was a 0.3% drop in the average balance for customers missing three payments, there was an 8% increase year-on-year.

The other spending pattern lenders will want to monitor closely over the coming months is the percentage of customers using the cash limit on their cards. This decreased for the fourth month in a row after peaking in September.

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