How have credit cards changed in the last 10 years?

It seems like a lifetime ago that the first chip and pin card was introduced into the UK. Since their launch back in 2002, chip and pin credit cards and debit cards have changed and evolved exponentially, changing the way that we manage our money.

There are around 164 million payment cards in use in the UK, and as of July 2018, almost 50.4 million of those were credit cards. It’s hard to imagine how any of us could function without these little pieces of plastic today, but do you know how far they’ve progressed?


Let’s look back

Do you know by which year, half of all UK adults had a credit card? It’s almost unbelievable to think that this was in 1999. We take for granted that cards are so readily available and still one of the easiest ways to make payment for goods. It’s been five decades since the first UK credit card debuted, and since then technology has made incredible advancements, especially where banking is concerned.

What technologies have evolved

When the first contactless card transactions were made in the UK in 2007, no one ever thought that by 2014 these types of payments would overtake regular chip and pin transactions. In fact, consumers smashed all previous contactless spending records in 2017 by setting a new one at £2.32 billion! This represented a whopping 255% increase on the previous year’s figure.

How has FinTech affected credit cards?

2018/19 saw the rollout of a new generation of cards as part of the NFC (Near Field Communication) contactless system. These are cards or apps which you simply wave in front of the card reader, with no need for physical contact. If you are using them through an app, however, they more-often-than-not ask you to log into your mobile banking app to allow you to use them.


2019 and beyond will see this type of payment and software grow exponentially with Google Pay and Apple Pay leading the way.

From the first contactless payment in 2007 to the purchases made using a virtual imitation of our credit cards on our mobiles today, it’s safe to say credit cards have evolved an extraordinary amount, and with financial technology, on the rise, they show no signs of slowing down any time soon.