Card spending hits record £55.3bn as online and contactless payments rise

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A record £55 billion was spent using cards in October as shoppers increasingly go online and use contactless technology to make purchases.

The UK Cards Association said £55.3 billion-worth of card spending was recorded in October, the highest figure it has ever seen within a single month - and the first time the figure has passed the £55 billion milestone. In September, £54.7 billion was spent on cards.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of card spending took place online. Around £12.9 billion-worth of card spending was made online, marking an 11% annual increase.

The association also said there are now 100 million contactless cards in circulation, including both debit and credit cards.

Some £2.8 billion-worth of spending was made during October using contactless "tap and go" payments, marking a 15.6% increase on the previous month.

The average contactless transaction was for £8.96.

The UK Cards Association said merchants offering leisure goods and services, such as digital entertainment providers, hobbies, toys and games shops, cinema, theatre and dance establishments and amusement parks, saw the biggest monthly jump in card spending in October.

There was also a notable rise in spending at sweet stores, probably due to Halloween, it said.

Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: "Cards continue to play a central role in the economy and our wallets."

Separate figures released by Barclaycard show that half (50%) of Britons now pay with contactless at least once a month.

Barclaycard said Manchester, Glasgow, Blackpool and Hull have seen particularly big jumps in contactless spending over the last year.

Overall, London continues to lead the way for contactless usage, Barclaycard said, with almost half (47%) of all eligible transactions (those up to the contactless transaction limit of £30) there now made contactlessly.

According to Barclaycard's figures, service stations have seen the biggest jump in contactless spending over the last year, followed by discount stores and gift, card and novelty shops.