Debit card statistics

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Americans' usage of debit cards has risen dramatically in the past decade. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of debit card payments grew from 8.3 billion to 47 billion.1

U.S. financial institutions issue 165 million new debit cards per year.2 This includes not only cards issued to new customers, but those reissued to customers after data breaches or card expirations. 

Number of debit card payments 2000-2012
8.3 billion
15.6 billion
25 billion
37.5 billion
47 billion
 Source: 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study


One new debit card is issued in the U.S. every five seconds.8


Visa and MasterCard dominate the debit card field. There were 471 million Visa debit cards in the U.S. and 1.09 billion in the rest of the world at the end of March 2015. Some 35 billion Visa debit transactions accounted for $1.31 trillion in purchase volume in the United States for the 12 months ending June 30, 20153 -- nearly enough to fuel Spain's economy for one year. 

MasterCard had 183 million debit cards in circulation in the U.S. at the end of June 2015 and 532 million in the rest of the world. The 13.6 billion MasterCard debit transactions during the 12 months ending December 31, 2014 accounted for $536 billion in sales4 -- enough to buy more than 1 million Lamborghini Aventadors. 

The average cardholder is using their debit card more frequently and spending more on it annually. In 2014, U.S. debit card holders averaged 21.2 monthly point-of-sale debit card transactions, compared to 16.1 such transactions in 2005. They spent on average $9, 291 a year in debit card transactions in 2014 compared to $7,807 in 2005.2

That increase in annual spending came even as the average ticket size for debit transactions dropped from $40 in 2005 to $37 in 2014. One-third of debit card transactions in 2014 were for less than $10.2

Only 20 percent of debit card transactions were for $50 or more in 2012.1


While Americans are using their debit cards more at the point of sale, they are not using their cards as much to withdraw money from an ATM. In 2014, debit card holders averaged 2 monthly ATM withdrawals with their debit cards compared with 3.4 monthly withdrawals in 2005 -- a decline of 41 percent.2

Perhaps that's because more cardholders are using their debit cards to get cash back when they make purchases. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of general-purpose debit and prepaid cash-back transactions increased 12 percent per year. The average amount of cash given back to debit card holders in 2012 was $33.1 

Why we use debit

Americans are more likely to use debit cards in some places than others. In 2014, 50 percent of consumers said that when they're shopping at supermarkets, they're most likely to use debit cards. Thirty-nine percent said the same thing about gas stations; 37 percent said they mostly use debit at dine-in restaurants. While a higher percentage of Americans in 2014 preferred to use credit (48 percent) than debit (30 percent) when shopping online, the percentage who used debit to shop online was up 8 percent from the year before.5 

Online shopping prefs

Source: TSYS 2014 Consumer Payments Study

What makes a debit card attractive? Sixty-six percent of consumers surveyed in 2014 about the features they most value in their preferred debit card said having funds deducted immediately from their accounts was the best feature, followed by 55 percent who said being able to withdraw cash at ATMs was most important.5

What feature(s) do you most value with your preferred debit card?
Ability to have purchases deducted directly from my checking account 66%
The ability to use the card at ATMs to get cash 55%
Ability to see my pending transactions instantaneously 46%
The ability to use the card both at physical stores and online 44%
The ability to know that I will not be liable for transactions if my payment information is used fraudulently by someone else 37%
Ability to get cash back when making a purchase 35%
The ability to use the card at ATMs to make deposits 29%
Knowing I have access to customer service representatives by phone to answer questions or straighten out problems with the card account 29%
The rewards or offers associated with the card 24%
The ability to get a replacement card/payment vehicle immediately 24%
Source: TSYS 2014 Consumer Payments Study


However, for some consumers, the use of debit comes at a cost. In 2013, the national median price for an overdraft caused by a debit card transaction was $30.6

Keeping debit safe

Despite the convenience afforded by debit and prepaid cards, security is still an issue. In the United States, 35 percent of Americans in 2014 were "very concerned" about experiencing fraud on their debit cards.7 There is reason for that concern. In 2012, there were 14.9 million fraudulent transactions via debit or general-purpose prepaid cards in the U.S., compared to 13.7 million fraudulent transactions via credit card.1

The U.S. had among the highest rates of debit card fraud in the world in 2014, perhaps because it did not implemented EMV anti-fraud technology until October 2015. In 2014, 18 percent of U.S. debit card holders had experienced fraud within the previous five years. Only China (30 percent), India (23 percent) and Mexico (20 percent) had higher rates of debit fraud.7

Debit card fraud rates around the world
Have you experienced fraud on your debit card in the past five years?
2012 (n=5,114)   2014 (n=6,041)
United States
South Africa
United Kingdom
The Netherlands
New Zealand
 Source: Aite Group, ACI Worldwide studies of consumers in 20 countries, Q1 2014 and in 17 countries, Q3 2012


  1. 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study Detailed Report, (released July 2014)
  2. 2015 Debt Issuer Study by PULSE
  3. Visa operational performance data, June 30, 2015
  4. MasterCard operational performance data, June 30, 2015
  5. TSYS 2014 Consumer Payments Study
  6. Moebs Services
  7. Aite: Global Consumers: Losing Confidence in the Battle Against Fraud
  8. calculations and 2015 Debt Issuer Study by PULSE

See related: Credit card statistics, Payment method statistics, Credit card fraud and ID theft statistics

Published: November 16, 2015

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Updated: 10-22-2016

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