Essential Canadian Credit Card Statistics & Facts

Written By
G. Dautovic
July 11,2023

In a world where technology is constantly evolving, it's no surprise that the way we handle our finances has changed too. Credit cards have become one of the most popular payment methods, and Canadians are among the world's biggest users. 

In this blog post, we will take a look at some interesting Canadian credit card statistics! We will see how credit card usage and debt levels differ among different age groups and demographics. Finally, we will discuss some of the possible reasons behind these differences.

So, let's get started!

Key Canadian Credit Card Statistics for 2024 - Editor’s Choice

  • In 2016, credit card POS transactions totalled more than $462 billion in value.
  • 70% of Canadians pay their balance off in full every month.
  • Canada's consumer debt topped $2 trillion by the end of 2020.
  • The total financial loss from credit card fraud in Canada is over $800 million. 
  • In 2013, 81 million credit cards were in circulation in Canada.

Credit Card Usage in Canada - Exciting Stats

In 2018, the number of active credit cards in Canada reached 42.7 million.


The number of credit cards in Canada has been growing steadily over the past years, showing no signs of slowing down. According to data collected by Statista in 2004, there were 26 million active credit cards in Canada. From 2004 to 2018, the number of credit cards in circulation continued to increase, reaching a total of 42.7 million. 

These numbers show that Canadians are increasingly relying on credit cards for everyday purchases and expenses. Credit cards offer a lot of convenience and flexibility, but they also come with a certain amount of risk, which is why it's essential to use them responsibly.

Credit card use declined by 11% in Canada in 2020.

(Payments Canada)

The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, it has had an impact on our spending habits, and there are many credit card stats for Canada that prove that. According to a 2021 report by Payments Canada, credit card use in Canada declined by 11% in 2020. 

The report attributes this decrease to the fact that many Canadians were forced to cut back on their spending due to job losses and other financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. 

Credit cards made up 31% of total payments in 2019.


According to credit card statistics in Canada for 2019, credit cards were the most popular transaction method by volume, accounting for 31% of all transactions, up by 10% from 2014. Debit cards were close behind at 28%, their popularity also having increased over the previous five years, albeit only by 4%.

At the same time, the popularity of cash and cheques decreased, from 32.8% to 18.4% and from 4.7% to 2.6%, respectively. This is in line with the rising popularity of contactless payments - in fact, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of Canadians said that they avoid shopping at retailers that didn’t support contactless payments.

In 2017, 82.58% of Canadians aged 15 and older had a credit card.


Based on data collected by the World Bank in 2017 about credit card use, Canada ranked first among 142 countries in terms of credit card ownership, with 82.58% of people aged 15 and over having at least one credit card. If you look at the average credit card ownership numbers, you'll see that Canada was well above the global 19.28% average.

This means Canadians were more likely to own a credit card than people from any other country in the world. Israel ranked second, with 75.02%, and Norway ranked third, with 70.5% of the population aged 15 and older owning a credit card.

70% of Canadians pay their balance off in full every month.

(Canadian Bankers Association)

According to a 2017 report from the Bank of Canada, 70% of Canadians paid their credit card balance in full every month. This is good news, as it means that most Canadians are using credit cards responsibly instead of carrying a balance from month to month. 

Carrying a balance from month to month is one of the biggest traps that credit card owners can fall into. If you're not careful, the interest charges can quickly add up, and before you know it, you'll be in credit card debt over your head.

In 2013, 81 million credit cards were in circulation in Canada.


Credit cards are extremely popular in Canada. In 2013, there were 81 million credit cards in circulation, which is double the number of credit cards that were in use in 2000. The numbers have fallen slightly since 2013, but the numbers have remained above 76 million as of January 2021.

These numbers are just another indicator of how important credit cards have become in the lives of all Canadians. It's hard to imagine living without one. In fact, for many people, credit cards are a necessity. They are a great way to build credit, make purchases, and manage your finances.

67% of all Canadians owned two or more credit cards in 2018.


Based on a report published by Statista in 2018 on the number of credit and debit cards owned in Canada, 67% of respondents reported having two or more credit cards. More precisely, 33% had two, 18% had three, and 16% had four or more. Meanwhile, the remaining 33% had only a single credit card.

At the same time, debit cards were significantly less popular. A total of 69% of respondents had only one debit card, 25% had two, 4% had three, and only 2% had four or more. 

This is only expected, as credit cards offer many benefits that debit cards don't, such as the ability to build credit, earn cashback rewards, and take advantage of special offers. For these reasons, many prefer to use credit cards for some or all of their purchases.

In 2019, credit cards were the dominant payment method for POS transactions.

(Payments Canada)

In 2019, credit cards were the most used instrument at the POS. To be precise, credit card POS transactions accounted for 61% of the total POS value, which is more than all the other POS methods combined. 

Meanwhile, debit cards comprised 28% of the total POS value, even though credit and debit cards are quite close when it comes to transaction volume - 38% and 37%, respectively.

The increase in credit card use in Canada is likely due to the fact that credit cards offer many benefits, such as rewards and loyalty programs, so it's not surprising that 89% of Canadians confirmed they had a credit card in their possession. In fact, 78% of cardholders confirmed they had some type of reward associated with their credit card.

Around 13% of all credit card transactions were used to pay bills in 2019.

(Payments Canada)

In 2019, around 13% of all credit card transactions were used to pay bills. Canadians used credit cards to pay for their utilities, insurance, subscriptions, memberships, and other recurring expenses. 

Paying bills with a credit card is a great way to earn rewards, as many credit cards offer bonus points or cash back on these types of purchases. It's also a convenient way to keep track of your expenses and make sure you always pay on time. 

In 2017, 15% of Canadians had a credit card spending limit of under $2,000.

(Bank of Canada)

According to a 2017 report by the Bank of Canada, 15% of all respondents reported having a low credit limit, defined as $2,000 or less. On the other hand, the number of those with a high credit limit of $10,000 or more was significantly higher, at 41%.

In terms of income, 26% of those earning less than $45,000 a year had a low credit limit, while only 10% of those earning $85,000 or more did. As for those in the middle (earning from $45,000 to $80,000 a year), 15% had a low credit limit.

There were also differences among age groups. Respondents aged 18-34 were more likely (31%) to have a low credit limit than those aged 35-54 (14%) and 55 and over (5%). Unsurprisingly, respondents with higher levels of education were less likely to have low credit limits. 

In 2016, credit card POS transactions in Canada totalled more than $462 billion in value.

(Payments Canada)

According to the Payments Canada report from 2017, the total value of credit card POS transactions in 2016 was $462 billion. The dominant categories for which Canadians were using their credit cards were personal attire (64%), durable goods (58%), gasoline (51%), and groceries and drugs (39%).

The report also found that debit cards accounted for $226 billion in value, while cash represented only 13% of the total value of transactions. 

Canada's consumer debt topped $2 trillion by the end of 2020.


According to a report by Equifax Canada, the outstanding consumer debt in Canada surpassed $2 trillion at the end of 2020. 

The report also found that the average consumer debt increased to $74,897, marking a 3.3% increase compared to the Q3 of 2019. This is likely due to the pandemic, as many people have been using credit cards to cover unexpected expenses or make ends meet. 

At the same time, the delinquency rate (the number of people who are 90+ days behind on their payments) has dropped to 0.98%, the lowest level since 2014. This is an excellent rate, and it shows that Canadian credit card debt levels are manageable despite the challenging circumstances.

The average debt in Ontario in Q3 of 2020 was $24,000.


Based on Equifax data for Q3 of 2020, the average debt per consumer in Ontario was $24,000. Western Canada had the highest average debt overall, with consumers owing $25,250 on average, and Manitoba was the region with the lowest average debt of $18,411.

Interestingly, the report found that the delinquency rate had actually dropped across the board compared to Q3 2019, and it was 15% lower on average for the entire country. 

The total financial loss from credit card fraud in Canada is over $800 million. 


Based on data compiled by The Canadian Bankers Association, the total financial loss from credit card fraud exceeds $800 million. According to their data, the number of compromised accounts increased by 71% from 2008 to 2014. 

Interestingly, only 19% of Canadians confirmed they were aware of the fact that their personal information had been compromised, and 39% of all respondents said they are so afraid of becoming a victim of credit card fraud that they don't use their credit cards as often. 

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from fraud, such as monitoring your credit card statements regularly and being careful about where you use your card. Also,  make sure to report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. 

Final Thoughts

Credit cards are a convenient and popular way to pay for purchases in Canada, so it's not surprising that the total value of credit card POS transactions has been on the rise in recent years. However, the average credit card debt in Canada is also increasing, which could be cause for concern. 

If you're considering getting a credit card, be sure to do your research and find one that best suits your needs. There are many different types of credit cards available, so you should be able to find one with reward points and perks that appeal to you. 

Just remember to use your credit card responsibly and always pay your bill on time to avoid interest charges that can damage your credit score.


What credit score is needed for a credit card in Canada?


There is no universal answer to this question as different credit card issuers have different requirements. However, if you look at the requirements for some of the most popular credit cards in Canada, you'll see that the minimum credit score ranges from 600 to 700.

What is the prime rate in Canada?


The current prime rate at the time of writing is 4.70%, the highest it has ever been since 2008. The prime rate is the interest rate banks charge their most creditworthy customers. The prime rate is used as a benchmark for other loans, such as credit card rates and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). 

If you have a good credit score, you can usually get a loan at the prime rate. However, if you have a bad credit score, you may be offered a loan at a higher interest rate.

What is the average credit card rate in Canada?


In Canada, the average credit card rate is 19.99%. However, it's important to keep in mind that the interest rate you'll be offered will depend on your credit score and other factors. Low credit scores will usually result in higher interest rates, while borrowers with high credit scores will usually be offered lower interest rates.

At what age should you be debt free?


Most financial experts recommend that you aim to be debt-free by the time you retire. This means that you should try to pay off all of your debts, including your mortgage, before you reach retirement age. So, you should aim to be debt-free by the time you're 65 years old. 

And, if you're unable to achieve this, don't worry. There are still plenty of options available to you, such as debt consolidation or refinancing.

What is the average debt load in Canada?


When it comes to debt, Canadians are doing quite well. According to a report by Equifax, the average non-mortgage debt per consumer was $20,774 as of March 2022. There are some variations among different age groups. 

For example, based on Canadian credit card statistics, the average debt for people aged 18-25 is $8,129, while the average debt for people aged 26-35 is more than doubled, at $16,832. The numbers also show that people between 46 and 55 years of age have the highest average debt, at $31,442.


About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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