The FICO UK Credit Card Market Report for December 2023 reflects the usual season trends in spending and payments. However, it also reflects the impact of continued high prices on card balances. This latest report shows the highest levels of both average spend and average balances since 2006, when FICO first analysed credit card use and payments.

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The latest FICO UK Credit Report shows the highest levels of both average spend and average balances on UK credit cards since 2006, when FICO first analysed credit card use and payments. (Graphic: Business Wire)

The latest FICO UK Credit Report shows the highest levels of both average spend and average balances on UK credit cards since 2006, when FICO first analysed credit card use and payments. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Highlights

  • Average spend increased by 5.9% on the previous month, to £850
  • Average balances rose by 2.2% month-on-month and 7.2% year-on-year, leading to an average balance of £1,780
  • 14.8% more customers missed a credit card payment month-on-month and 0.5% more compared to the same month in 2022
  • There has been a 1.3% decrease in the average balance for those customers missing one payment

Key Trend Indicators – UK Cards December 2023

Metric

Amount

Month-on-Month
Change

Year-on-Year
Change

Average UK Credit Card Spend

£850

+5.9%

+2.9%

Average Card Balance

£1,780

+2.2%

+7.2%

Percentage of Payments to Balance

36.6%

-0.2%

-4.9%

Accounts with One Missed Payment

1.7%

+14.8%

+0.5%

Accounts with Two Missed Payments

0.3%

+0.9%

+1.9%

Accounts with Three Missed Payments

0.7%

+7.7%

+5%

Average Credit Limit

£5,615

+0.1%

+0.8%

Average Overlimit Spend

£90

0%

-4.4%

Cash Sales / Total Sales

0.8%

-10.2%

+0.7%

Source: FICO

FICO Comment

Increases in spend always occur in December, and 2023 was no exception with a 5.9% month-on-month rise, taking the average spend to £850. This is the highest spend since FICO records began in 2006.

The average balance continued to trend upwards, as expected in the lead up to Christmas. December 2022 saw record average balances. In December 2023 that record was broken with average balances up 2.2% month-on-month and up 7.2% year-on-year. The average balance now stands at £1,780. It is anticipated that this trend will fall post-Christmas, however with prices remaining high lenders will want to monitor closely how much it will fall, and for how long it will remain lower.

Another pattern typical of December was the amount paid off credit card balances as shoppers focussed their cashflow on Christmas spending. In December 2023 the average balance paid off dropped slightly, by 0.16%, month-on-month. However, this measure has been trending down since July.

Pre-COVID, the average payment compared to the overall balance was approximately 30%, but with lockdown and increased savings this rose to 42%. The FICO data now shows this dropping back, although it is currently still 6% higher than before the pandemic.

Another sign of pressure on finances was the number of customers missing one, two and three payments. This increased from November to December 2023, with the largest increase seen for those missing one payment: a 14.8% increase month-on-month and a 0.5% increase compared to 2022. Again, seasonality influences results with similar volumes expected in January as a result of the post-Christmas spending hangover. Lenders will also want to be mindful that higher numbers of customers missing one payment in December are likely to roll over into two payments in January.

Issuers should note that established customers – those who have had their credit card between one and five years – are the most likely to miss payments. This group contains customers whose 0% offers have expired, and they are now paying off balances at the standard rate. FICO recommends monitoring this group for signs of vulnerability and indebtedness. Now is a great time to review existing collections strategies and examine whether anything more can be done to proactively identify and assist financially distressed customers.

These card performance figures are part of the data shared with subscribers of the FICO® Benchmark Reporting Service. The data sample comes from client reports generated by the FICO® TRIAD® Customer Manager solution in use by some 80% of UK card issuers. For more information on these trends, contact FICO.

About FICO

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