The number of credit card-holders declined by 2 percentage points to 21 percent in 2011 in the country, despite a major rise in the number of premium card-holders which rose to 29 percent of the total number.

But India also witnessed a fastest growth in the platinum card segment, from 18 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2011, due to a rise in the mass affluent segment and the focused sourcing of customers with a higher income levels by the issuing banks, an HSBC Credit Card Monitor Survey said.

“This comes even as the country saw a 2 percentage point drop in the number of credit card-holders last year,” HSBC India consumer assets head Mr Manish Sinha said in the report.

“The role of benefits and rewards in attracting new and loyal customers is growing in importance,” he said.

Significantly, the survey also finds that more and more card-holders have reduced the number of cards in their wallet and consolidated spending with a single card in 2011, as customers tended to consolidate spends onto cards they are paying fees for, and prefer cards with higher proposition and increased benefits.

The proportion of single card-holders has grown most in India in 2011 at 90 per cent. The second was the Philippines with 84 per cent, followed by Malaysia (80 per cent).

Interestingly, credit card offers are perceived differently across Asia. For instance, Indonesians rank worldwide card acceptance as the most important feature (50 per cent), whereas only 2 percent of Hong Kong people feel so.

Singapore registered the highest number of platinum card holders at 71 per cent against 68 per cent in 2010, followed by Taiwan (56 percent vs 54 percent), Hong Kong (41 per cent vs 38 per cent), and Malaysia (19 percent vs 18 per cent).

In Asia, Hong Kong had the highest penetration of credit cards in 2011 with 77 per cent of the people polled saying they use credit cards. In 2010, the number stood at 73 per cent.

The second highest penetration was in Taiwan (55 per cent), followed by Singapore (52 per cent).

The survey interviewed around 5,000 general card-holders, mostly in the 18-54 age-group, in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines during May-November 2011.

(This article was published on May 13, 2012)
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