Cards-in-force increased steadily by 1.63 per cent in January, inching close to the milestone of 10 crore outstanding credit cards in India. The total number of credit cards stood at 9.95 crore as at the end of January 2024, aided by HDFC Bank crossing 2 crore cards during the month.

The number of credit cards rose by nearly 16 lakh during the month, slower than 19 lakh additions in December 2023. Banks such as American Express, Standard Chartered, Union Bank and Bank of Maharashtra saw a slight decline in their cards during the month, according to data by the Reserve Bank of India.

Among the top four issuers, HDFC Bank maintained its leadership position, adding 2.3 lakh cards during the month to a total of 2.01 crore cards at the end of January. State Bank of India was a close second with 1.9 crore cards, followed by ICICI Bank which saw the highest increase in cards on the back of 3.1 lakh additions. New cards issued by SBI and Axis Bank during the month were below 2 lakh.

YES Bank, CSB Bank, IDFC First Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and AU Small Finance were the other issuers to see strong net addition in cards in January.

Card spends steady

Card spends for the month were steady, growing 0.8 per cent on month to ₹1.66-lakh crore, the second highest ever spends after the peak of ₹1.78-lakh crore spends in October 2023.

E-commerce payments accounted for 64.8 per cent of credit cards spends during the month, whereas PoS (point-of-sale) transactions comprised 35.2 per cent of spends.

All of the top four issuers, barring HDFC Bank, registered an increase of 4-7 per cent in spends during the month. Axis Bank saw the highest increase of 6.56 per cent in spends to ₹20,305 crore. HDFC Bank continued to lead with spends of ₹43,711 crore during the month, despite a decline of 2.37 per cent from December.

However, for the sector as a whole, January was a mixed bag with issuers such as Indian Bank, Union Bank and Jammu and Kashmir Bank saw a strong increase in spends, whereas others such as Federal Bank, IndusInd Bank, South Indian Bank, RBL Bank, Kotak Bank, HSBC and SBM Bank India saw a sharp decline in spends by 3-14 per cent during the month.