In February 2019, the number of debit cards grew to 944.5 million, adding 13.28 million new cardholders. At the same time, a total of 46.1 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.89 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between February 2018 and February 2019, India added some 9.13 million credit cards and 89.11 million debit cards.


Card usage spiked during the months following demonetization, when the unavailability of cash forced people to use cards. Since then, both debit card and credit card usage has been increasing, and at times, range-bound, but we really aren’t seeing spikes in usage.

The number of transactions using credit cards at POS terminals or swipe machines grew by 23.2% year-on-year, while it increased by 22.8% for debit cards for the 12 month period ending February 2019. In February 2019, the total number of POS transactions through credit cards was 141.3 million, while the figure for debit cards was 347.2 million.

Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals — which was Rs 48,489 crore in February 2019 — increased by 28.8% in the 12 month period ending February 2019. The amount transacted using POS terminals through debit cards went up by 22.8% during the same time. In February 2019, Rs 45,604 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 from January 2018 onwards the amount transacted through credit cards and debit cards was nearly the same. In February 2019, credit card transaction amounts were slightly higher than those of the debit card transaction amounts.

The total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals went down by Rs 6,456 crore in February 2019, while the amount transacted through debit cards decreased by Rs 5,080 crore.

At POS terminals, the average amount transacted per transaction using credit cards — which is an indication of the amount people are willing to spend in one transaction — increased marginally between February 2018 and February 2019. For debit cards, it almost stagnant during the same period.