Global Financial Behaviour: Credit card ownership and use

A relatively high proportion of adults in western European markets hold credit or charge cards, with what are currently the more flourishing economies particularly high. In Germany 62% of adults hold a credit or charge card, whilst in Britain – perhaps reflective of their high likelihood to agree that they spend money without thinking – the figure is even higher at 73%. This is very similar to the 72% of consumers in the US who have a credit card. Conversely, in Spain only 41% hold a credit or charge card.

In the high profile emerging markets the picture is more mixed. In China 44% of adults have a credit card, but in Russia the figure is only 12% and in India just 5%.

However, whilst credit card ownership in China is still somewhat behind some of the European markets, use of credit cards is certainly comparable. 19% of adults in China use a credit card once a week or more, compared to only 7% in Germany (reflecting their overall careful approach towards spending and saving), 12% in Spain and 19% in Britain. 

This demonstrates to what extent Chinese consumer behaviour with regard to spending and buying on credit is very similar to many developed markets. The one market it is nothing like in this regard is the US, where 39% of adults use a credit card at least once a week, which demonstrates just how ingrainedpurchasing on credit is in the US consumer psyche compared to other markets.

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