My Personal Finance Journey

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Average Size Of Credit Card Transaction

Contributed by mm | December 27, 2004 12:12 PM PST

CardWeb reported that in the last year, the average size of credit card transaction tops $100 for the first time. 2003's average of $101.64 is 1.9% higher than last year's $99.76 and represents 16% increase in 10 years.

Out of curiosity, I tabulated my numbers in the last three years from my Microsoft Money file:null

2002: 244 transactions for a total of $8,849.31, average = $36.27
2003: 516 transactions for a total of $26,235.60, average = $50.84
2004 Year-To-Date: 622 transactions for a total of $24,301.64, average = $39.07

For the record, my 2002 absolute charge amount is much lower because I started my life with credit card in the middle of that year. Also, my 2003 per-transaction charge is inflated due to a number of big-ticket items associated with my first house.

Anyway, I have almost no way to match the $100-some average by my fellow credit card users. Am I living poor to most of Americans or am I a master cheapskate?

CardWeb answered my question by commeting in the same report that "[t]he increase in credit card ticket size is clearly related to the sharp rise in debit card transactions which siphon off smaller transactions. The average off-line debit purchase transaction is currently $39.78."

Well, I am not a fan of debit cards -- the last time I used a debit card is in April, just before I got an American Express card to pay at Costco, which does not accept Visa or Mastercard. I strongly advocate all people with financial discipline to use credit card as the major payment channel for more rewards and more protection.

This Post Has Received 2 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


Professor Jim Commented on January 1, 2005

This is a statistical phenomenon. Averages can be very misleading when there may be a small number of outlying data points. For example, with the rise in credit card incentives, people are more prone to use their credit cards for very large purchases. I bought a boat on credit card for $15,000 just for the travel incentives. (paid it off next month...) Statistically, a small number of transactions like this can dramatically raise the overall average transaction size.


Mr. K Commented on January 3, 2005

I have been downloading my credit card purchases since 2000...here is my data.

2000 - 200 tr = $6,781.28 avg $33.91
2001 - 265 tr = $8,993.17 avg $33.94
2002 - 280 tr = $10,294.60 avg $36.77
2003 - 328 tr = $12,014.61 avg $36.63
2004 - 275 tr = $11,860.80 avg $43.13

My averages seem to be falling into the same area as yours.
It would be interesing to see the averages charges broken out by income class.


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