Credit Cards Continue to Gain Market Share

Year-over-year credit card growth is expected through 2020. Rewards and digital wallet integration will play a role in this upward trajectory.

Never has there been more choice for consumers in terms of how to pay. We have the good-old stalwart channels, such as paper checks, as well as newborn ones, like Apple Pay or Pay with Amazon. Yet, the credit card remains a fan favorite – one that continues to gobble up its share of the payments pie. 

According to the Nilson Report’s most recent research, credit cards continued to gain share against all other forms of payment in the U.S. in 2015. It’s a remarkable feat, considering the growing number of payment vehicles available to today’s consumers and businesses alike. 

Why the continued popularity? One reason may be the rapid-fire release of loyalty-inspiring rewards and perks for today’s credit cardholders. From the triple cash-back points offered by the Chase Sapphire Rewards Card to the 5-percent cash back offering on the newly released Amazon Prime Card, the competitive card rewards landscape has really ratcheted up in recent months. 

The other thing to consider is credit cards are the payment tool behind most of the emerging digital payment options today. When you download and use Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, Pay with Amazon… I could go on… there is typically a Visa or Mastercard loaded in that payment app. Notably, digital wallets were not included as a category in the Nilson research. 

Nilson predicts credit card payments, which accounted for 31 percent of total volume in 2015, to continue their upward trajectory – at least through 2020. They’ll be joined in that growth by other plastic cohorts, prepaid and debit. Together, the three card-based methods of payment will reach 70 percent of total volume by 2020.