In August 2018, the number of debit cards increased to 980 million, with 18.2 million new cardholders, while a total of 41 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.87 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between August 2017 and August 2018, India added about 8.4 million credit cards and 169.3 million debit cards.


Card usage spiked during the months of November 2016, December 2016 and January 2017, following the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. The unavailability of cash forced cardholders to use cards. But since February 2017, both debit card and credit card usage has been range-bound. In June 2017, debit cards were down by 86.2 million to 793.83 million, shaving off most of the increase that demonetization brought in.

The number of transactions using credit cards at POS terminals or swipe machines grew by 25% year-on-year, while it increased by 34.6% for debit cards for the 12 month period ending August 2018. In August, the total number of POS transactions through credit cards was 144.2 million, while the figure for debit cards was 357.17 million.

Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals — which was Rs 47,982 crore in August 2018 — increased by 32% in the 12 month period ending August 2018. Amount transacted using POS terminals through debit cards went up by 38% during the same time. In August 2018, Rs 48,972 crore were transacted through debit cards at POS terminals. Note that in the chart above, the amount transacted using debit cards had surpassed credit cards in November 2016, but by January 2018 the amount transacted through credit cards and debit cards became almost the same, and now debit card transactions are slightly higher than the credit card transacted amount.

Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals went up by Rs 223 crore in August 2018, while the amount transacted through debit cards grew by Rs 666 crore.

At POS terminals, average amount transacted per transaction using credit cards — which is an indication of the amount people are willing to spend in one transaction — increased 5.7% between August 2017 and August 2018. For debit cards, it grew 3% during the same time period.