Generation debit versus generation credit

Monday, 10 September 2012

Generations Z and Y prefer using their debit cards for everyday purchases over their credit cards, new industry analysis reveals.

NAB and data analytics firm Quantium reviewed debit card and credit card transactions and revealed some interesting spending habits that crossed generational and geographic boundaries.

At the supermarket, Gen X and Baby Boomers are putting more through their credit cards than their debit cards, but Gen Y and Z are together putting almost twice as much more through debit compared to their credit cards.

Spending at the petrol pump tells a similar story with Gen X and Baby Boomers combined putting almost 50 per cent more through their credit cards compared to debit, while Gen Z and Y prefer using their debit cards at the bowser.

Last year, Gen X spent an average $54,943 per person combined through their debit and credit cards – more than any other generation, while Gen Y spent an average $30,976. Baby Boomers and Gen Z spent an average $54,499 and $17,823 per annum respectively.

Across the country, the data showed electronic spending was highest in Western Australia at $51,804 per person, while Tasmanians spent the least over the year with an average spend of $39,794 each.

State-by-state breakdown – Average electronic spend per person (combined debit and credit cards):

WA – $51,804
ACT – $51,231
NSW – $48,105
QLD – $45,479
VIC – $44,783
NT – $44,607
SA – $43,836
TAS – $39,794

Michael Shurlin, NAB General Manager Cards and Personal Loans said he wasn't surprised by the results and the difference in spending habits across the generations.

"This isn't unusual as we're seeing stronger growth amongst the younger generations opening both transaction and savings accounts and an increase in the number of older consumers taking advantage of rewards credit cards," he said.

"On average, Australians spent almost $47,000 each through the electronic channels of debit and credit cards last year.

Mr Shurlin said NAB encouraged customers to choose products that best met their needs. "Australians make decisions every day about the best way to pay for goods and services," he said.

"Whether buying takeaway for dinner or booking a family holiday, it's important that customers have the right cards to suit their budget and spending habits.

"Choosing the right payment channel can make it easier to manage your money easier each month.

"Credit cards can provide customers with a range of benefits including earning rewards points, taking advantage of interest free days or creating breathing space when they need to spread their payments out over a few months," he said.

"Debit cards provide the flexibility of easy access to your transaction account. The right way to pay comes down to a customer's individual needs.

"Customers can visit our website to access help, guidance and advice, and a range of tools to better manage their money. They can also speak with our people in store and over the phone about the best card for them," he said.

"NAB has a credit card selector on our website that helps customers choose a product that's right for them, and our balance transfer calculator – powered by Canstar – allows customers to directly compare NAB credit cards with competitor products.

"This comparison exercise shows customers the savings they could enjoy if they switched to a NAB product," he said.

"These savings highlight the changes we've made to our credit card payment hierarchy as part of Fair Value, and show customers how they could be paying less, and getting more for their money."

For further information:

Media: Dianne Sarantakos
M: +61 (0) 416 577 937

Media: Nick Higginbottom
M: +61 (0) 477 342 075


This analysis of NAB customers was undertaken by data analytics firm Quantium. Quantium analysed anonymous NAB customer credit card and debit card (including EFTPOS and VISA Debit) transactions.

Generation Z: People currently under 22 years of age

Generation Y: People currently aged between 22 and 32

Generation X: People currently aged between 32 and 52

Baby Boomer: People currently aged between 52 and 66M

About Quantium

Quantium is Australia's leading data analytics and marketing strategy firm. Quantium has worked with NAB for more than 4 years, assessing de-identified transaction data to derive insights, trends and shopping habits of different customer groups. The resulting analysis forms Market Blueprint and is used by NAB and other businesses to drive innovation and business performance through customer, distribution and marketing strategies.