23 Incredible Credit Card Statistics in Canada in 2021

In our increasingly digital world, credit cards are at the forefront of cashless transactions. Credit card statistics in Canada show they’re not merely a means of borrowing but a convenient and flexible payment tool.

Depending on how they’re used, credit cards can bring amazing benefits to both consumers and retailers. But they can just as quickly turn into never-ending trails of debt after a shopping spree.

Did you know that 70% of Canadians pay off their credit card balance in full every month? That’s how they can enjoy zero interest rates.

Let’s learn more about the latest Canadian credit card trends.

Astounding Credit Card Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Canadians have approximately 79.6 million issued credit cards.
  • On average, each Canadian carries at least two credit cards.
  • 78% of Canadians own credit cards linked to rewards.
  • The lowest interest rate for a Canadian credit card is 8.99%.
  • The average credit card limit for 41% of Canadians is around $10,000 or more.
  • Personal attire purchases account for around 64% of credit card spending.
  • 38% of Canadians cite building their credit rating as one of the most common reasons for using credit cards. 
  • In 2020, the average Canadian debt increased by 2.7%.
  • Credit card debt is the most common outstanding debt for Canadians, accounting for 29%.
  • About 23% of Canadians have provided their credit card number in phone stores or restaurants.

Credit Card Use in Canada at a Glance

1. In 2018, the number of issued credit cards in Canada stood at around 79.6 million.

(Source: Statista)

The number of credit cards in circulation has remained roughly the same since 2011. But since contactless payment has become a necessity and not just a convenience, the amount is expected to rise. So, more and more Canadians will soon shift to credit cards, including prepaid credit cards.

2. About 70% of Canadians have no interest rate.

(Source: Canadian Bankers Association)

That’s mainly because 70% of them manage to pay their credit card balance in full every month. Interest-free credit cards allow Canadians not to worry over purchasing whatever they need or want. 

What’s more: 

They also enjoy many low-interest credit cards, most of which incur less than a 13% interest rate. So, carrying a balance to the next billing period isn’t as troublesome, and the percentage of Canadians in debt is not that high.

3. Since 2012, there’s been a 33% volume increase in the use of credit cards as a payment method.

(Source: Statista)

In contrast, recent years show a significant decline in cash and cheque use — 19% for the former and 28% for the latter. Meanwhile, credit and debit card transactions are rising, indicating Canadians are turning to more convenient and safer payment methods.

Of the total transaction volume, point-of-sale payments account for 82%. Their credit card volume leaped to 16.1% from 2018. In 2019, that became the most used POS payment method for the first time in history.

4. 78% of Canadians have a reward linked to their cards, credit card statistics in Canada reveal.

(Source: Payments Canada, Strategy Online)

Cashback rewards and loyalty programs heavily influence the shift to this payment method. Most of these reward programs issue points in various ways, including general, travel, retail, and cashback rewards.

Canadians also use loyalty programs actively. About 56% make purchases that will give them rewards or benefits a few times a week. When it comes to such bonuses, only Italians and Australians are more active.

credit card statistics canada

5. According to a 2016 consumer survey, the average Canadian carries two credit cards.

(Source: Good Times, Canadian Bankers Association)

Credit card statistics show that Canadians usually own more than one credit card, with Visa and MasterCard being the most popular issuers. Experts project that by 2023, Canada will have nearly 50 million active Mastercard and Visa accounts. With hundreds of institutions across the country offering credit card products, Canadians put the payment method to good use.

6. In 2018, statistics for the credit card market share in Canada showed RBC gaining about 27.3% share, possibly overtaking the market leader TD.  

(Source: Cards International)

Before the Royal Bank of Canada was captured by Toronto Dominion, it held the number one spot in the credit card market share. It’s estimated that RBC’s credit card customer acquisition is between two to three times the rate of their counterparts. They’re also committed to drawing in more premium customers.

7. As of 2021, the lowest among the Canadian credit card rates is at 8.99%.

(Source: Rate Hub, 4 Pillars)

When it comes to Canada and its credit card comparison, it’s essential to look at the interest rate. The MBNA True Line Gold boasts the lowest among its peers at 8.99%. In contrast, the country’s average credit card interest rate is approximately 19%, but that can also go as high as 29.99%. Low-interest credit cards are ideal for those who have unstable income and struggle to pay off their balance in full every month.

8. Personal attire accounts for 64% of credit card spending in retail categories.

(Source: Finder.com)

Canadians often use their credit cards for household expenses and remote bill payments, according to credit card statistics in Canada. They mainly purchase personal apparel, closely followed by durable goods at 58% and gasoline at 51%.

9. 41% of Canadians have a credit limit of $10,000 or more.

(Source: Finder)

Most credit cards have a limit, serving as the maximum spending point within the statement period. Only 15% of Canadians have a credit limit of less than $2,000. Spending over the limit can affect your credit score negatively.

10. About 38% of Canadians use their credit cards for accounting, convenience, or to build their credit rating.

(Source: Government of Canada)

Canadians choose credit cards as the number one payment method due to their convenience, easy expense tracking, and credit rating improvement. According to credit card statistics in Canada, 30% use this payment method to collect reward points.

Canadian Debt Statistics

11. In 2020, the average Canadian debt increased by 2.7%.

(Source: CTVNews)

According to Equifax Canada, the Canadian consumer debt reached $27,950 at the end of 2019. Meanwhile, the non-mortgage debt went up one percent to $23,800, including debts from credit cards, personal loans, and lines of credits. 

In contrast, the Canadian mortgage statistics show that the average new loan reached $289,000 nationally in the Q4 2019. This illustrates a 7.2% increase compared to the previous year.

12. Credit card debt is the most common outstanding debt held by Canadians at 29%. 

(Source: Government of Canada,  Financial Post)

In 2019, Canadians racked up more than $100 billion in credit card balances for the first time. Many consider the delinquency rate increase as a sign that the market for issuing credit is weakening.

13. About one-third of Canadians struggle with daily finances or paying their bills.

(Source: Government of Canada)

So, 31% of Canadians have a money management issue. On top of that, 8% also fall behind on bill payments and other financial commitments. No wonder that Canadian debt statistics report 73% used debt in 2019.

14. The 2020 delinquency rate increased by 1.24%, showing a 10.6% surge from the previous year.

(Source: CBC)

The number of credit users who have missed at least three payments rose nationally. The province of New Brunswick tops the highest delinquency rate at 1.8%. In contrast, British Columbia boasts the lowest one at just 1.02%. One in five of those utilizing deferred payments were already under financial stress even before the pandemic began.

15. About 84% of Canadians aim to prioritize paying off their household debt.

(Source: Advisor)

Falling into debt for life remains a real fear for people, and Canadians are no exception. Around 94% of them believe the average household has too much of it. While credit cards’ ease of access makes debt a part of life, Canadians can do without the stress of this burden.

Credit Card Fraud Statistics in Canada

credit card statistics in canada

16. Around 53% of Canadians have been financial fraud victims at least once.

(Source: Equifax)

Owning a credit card can open the door to fraud, and more than half of Canadians have already fallen victim to it. The annual loss due to mass marketing fraud incurred by businesses and citizens has risen to more than $10 billion. Organized crime groups instigated about 80% of fraud cases.

17. In 2019, 74% of Canadians shopped through web-based retailers.

(Source: CPA Canada)

The same percentage also used online banking. Since Canadians frequently carry out online transactions, they risk exposure to even more online fraud. 

What’s more: 

It’s typical for them to overshare online, with credit card statistics for 2021 showing that 70% do so. It’s all too easy for criminals to exploit this negligence. 18% of those who experienced fraud claim it had to do with credit cards.

18. In 2019, there were about 52.31 identity fraud incidents for every 100,000 Canadians.

(Source: Statista, CPA Canada)

Identity fraud is rampant in the digital age. In 2018 alone, Canadians suffered identity theft losses to the tune of $21.2 million, with credit cards being the primary target. It comes as no surprise that it’s a concern for 69% of survey respondents.

19. Fraud reports have risen 64% over the past decade.

(Source: Advisor)

According to credit card fraud statistics in Canada, there’s been an overwhelming increase in fraud reports over the past 10 years. The main reason behind it is largely the convenience of growing online options for exposing fraud. This may have contributed to the rise in police-reported crime, which was up by 5% between 2018 and 2019.

20. Around 23% of Canadians admitted to providing their credit card number over the phone to stores or restaurants.

(Source: Newswire)

More and more Canadians engage in behaviours that can jeopardize their data and information, putting them at risk of potential fraud. With credit card transactions done over the phone in stores and restaurants, you can easily get exposed to various risks. Even though around 73% of Canadians believe digital shopping can lead to fraud, many of them still fall victim to it.

Canadian Credit Cards Statistics During the COVID-19 Pandemic

21. 42% of Canadians prefer not to shop at places without contactless payment options.

(Source: Newswire)

Credit card statistics in Canada show that spending habits have drastically changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here’s the deal:

For one, more than 40% avoid businesses without contactless payments. Also, 75% of Canadians are spending less than they did before the crisis. Understandably, the use of e-transfers and credit cards gets more frequent. 

Around 28% of Canadians who previously paid with credit cards weekly now do it more often. The focus on contactless payments compelled 53% to use card mobile tap payment more regularly for in-store purchases.

22. During the start of the pandemic, 62% of Canadians used credit cards for payments.

(Source: Bank of Canada)

Bank of Canada credit card statistics for April 2020 show this payment method is Canadians’ primary choice. Thanks to this survey, we understand the demand for cash and its use during the pandemic better.

The thing is:

More than 60% of Canadians paid for transactions using credit cards, followed by debit at 52%, e-transfer at 38%, and cash at 36%. Despite this trend, 74% of Canadians have no plans of going cashless.

23. About 44% of renters couldn’t pay their dues after a pandemic-related income decline.

(Source: Canadian Bankers Association, Bank of Canada)

Deferrals have become a common sight during the pandemic. Almost half of the households that needed to postpone their payments cited COVID-19 related income shortage as the main reason. 

Credit card statistics in 2021 show that, as of February, eight Canadian banks had already completed or are in the process of completing more than 482,500 deferral requests. Fortunately, some of the largest banks had more capital entering the COVID-19 crisis than the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Bottom Line

Due to the changing times, have countries turned to safer and more convenient ways of payment. So, using a credit card in Canada will only get more popular. While there are clear advantages to that, such as paying fast and safe, it’s also not without a fair share of pitfalls.

Here’s why:

If left unchecked, purchases can rack up debt, which is why you should always strive to pay off the credit card balance in full every month. Still, Canadians are quite good at this, and 70% of them do so each month. 

Another way to make the most out of credit cards is choosing one with a low interest rate. That way, you’ll easily manage to pay off your debt if you miss a billing period, and they won’t add up too much over time.

Looking at credit card statistics in Canada gives you a better understanding of a trend that’s here to stay. You can use this to your advantage by avoiding bad spending habits and making better credit card choices. 


How much credit card debt does the average Canadian have?

Canadians’ average debt is at $73,532 per person, pushed mainly by the rising mortgage balances. But credit card balances have decreased by 12.3%. At the start of the pandemic, consumers chose to spend less and focus on clearing their debts.

What’s the average Canadian credit card interest rate?

There’s an approximately 19% average interest rate for credit card debt in Canada. It can even go as high as 29.99%. Still, if you diligently pay off your monthly balance, it won’t be as bad as it sounds. We should also note that credit cards charge interest daily, not monthly. It’s a common misconception that can rack up your debts over time.

What’s the most prestigious credit card in Canada?

When we say prestigious, we’re thinking about the premium and countless benefits that a regular credit card lacks. But prestigious cards are only available for a limited number of people and are usually invite-only. While they’re expensive, the high credit limit makes up for it.

Among all Canadian credit cards, American Express The Centurion is considered the most prestigious. Only the wealthiest AmEx cardholders can take hold of it, and it’s often issued through invitation. According to credit card statistics in Canada, a Centurion cardholder’s annual average income is around $1.3 million, with a net worth of approximately $16 million.

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