In April 2019, the number of debit cards sharply declined to 884.78 million, a reduction of 39.8 million existing cardholders. At the same time, a total of 47.99 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.91 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between April 2018 and April 2019, India added some 10.2 million credit cards and lost over 21 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 26.2% year-on-year, while it increased by 22.1% for debit cards for the 12 month period ending April 2019. In April 2019, the total number of POS transactions through credit cards was 166.9 million, while the figure for debit cards was 407.6 million.

Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals — which was Rs 57,649 crore in April 2019 — increased by 28.6% in the 12 month period ending April 2019. The amount transacted using POS terminals through debit cards went up by 21% during the same time. In April 2019, Rs 54,958 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 April 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 declined marginally by Rs 3 crore in April 2019, while the amount transacted through debit cards increased by Rs 1,947 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 April 2018 and April 2019. For debit cards, it declined during the same period.