ECONOMY

Greece sees major decline in use of credit cards

The number of credit cards circulating in Greece dropped by half over the last five years due to the dramatic decrease in consumption and the banks’ policy against credit expansion.

The decline amounts to 51.6 percent, according to data released by the European Central Bank on Wednesday, as the number of credit cards in use dropped from about 6.9 million in 2008 to approximately 3.3 million in 2012 – i.e. a decline of nearly 3.6 million cards.

ECB figures also show a spectacular slide in credit card purchase volume, amounting to 41 percent: From a 7.7-billion-euro total for credit card purchases in 2008, plastic money paid for just 4.5 billion euros’ worth of shopping in 2012.

The increase in debit cards in the same period was not enough to offset the drop in credit card use, resulting in an 11.3 percent decrease in the total number of cards in use, as they amounted to 11.5 million at the end of 2012 compared to 13.3 million at end-2008.