UK Consumer Card Spending Overtakes Cash

As our payment habits move towards plastic, P2P travel money provider WeSwap unveils the destinations that most use cash and cards 

The British Retail Consortium today announced that debit cards were the most popular form of payment, as falling cash use pushed notes and coins down to third place. The report stated that cash accounted for just over £1 in every £5 spent with UK shops. Credit and charge cards accounted for £82bn, or 22%, of retail sales last year – outstripping cash (£78bn) for the first time. Spending on debit cards totalled £216bn.

This trend in the rise of card payments is not just seen in the UK but across Europe and North America. With more people relying heavily on their cards, mobiles, and contactless devices to pay, WeSwap research has revealed the top ten destinations for card and cash spending, based on the popularity of use across its 500,000-strong userbase.

Card                                                                  Cash

  1. Sweden – 81%                                                Cambodia – 93%
  2. Norway – 77%                                                Lebanon – 88%
  3. Finland – 71%                                                Ecuador – 84%
  4. USA – 71%                                                      Peru – 81%
  5. Luxembourg – 70%                                      Croatia – 77%
  6. Denmark – 70%                                            Japan – 77%
  7. Czech Republic – 69%                                 Greece – 74%
  8. Canada – 69%                                                Slovakia – 73%
  9. Switzerland – 67%                                        Montenegro – 72%
  10. Mexico – 66%                                                Thailand – 72%


Countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland are top of the list for card use – who all frequently use debit and credit card from day-to-day. Sweden is well on its way to being a cashless society, with “no cash accepted” signs becoming a common occurrence in Swedish stores. Holidaymakers should be aware of this when travelling and not get caught out with plenty of krona but no card to spend it on.

In contrast, it is important to be aware that there are still many countries in Europe, such as Greece and Croatia, that do not use debit and credit cards as frequently. In this case, holidaymakers should plan when to buy their foreign currency in order to not get caught out by nasty ATM fees whilst abroad.

Rob Stross, CMO of WeSwap: “Although there are more and more countries working towards living in a cashless society, Brits must remember that there are still many countries both in Europe and the rest of the world that are still predominately cash based. When withdrawing cash abroad, ATMs could charge you up to 5% for every transaction. So it is worth noting when going abroad which countries use cash more frequently and which use card in order to avoid paying unnecessary fees on ATM withdrawals of POS transactions. This way, holidaymakers can budget for their summer holidays effectively and spend wisely.”

WeSwap users can use their WeSwap Mastercard to load funds, purchase items and withdraw or order cash for their holidays with no risk of hidden costs or unfair fees. Now the innovative travel money provider reveals where the most popular destinations are for holidaymakers to use their card and where is best to use cash.