Credit card market study: MS14/6

Terms of reference
Open consultation: Interim report
Interim report consultation closed
Final report

Our market study on the credit card sector focused on one of the largest consumer credit markets we regulate – there are around 30 million credit card holders in the UK.

We have published Consultation Paper CP17/10 on persistent debt and earlier intervention remedies to implement the findings of our study.

Show MS14/6.3 Final report (PDF)

The final findings report included 4 annexes:

Our market study

We published the terms of reference for our credit card market study in November 2014. 

Since then we have analysed the credit card accounts of 34 million consumers over a five-year-period and surveyed around 40,000 consumers. You can find out further information on our research in our infographic.

We published our interim findings in November 2015, then reviewed feedback from stakeholders including industry and consumer groups.

In July 2016 we published our final findings which include that in most of the market, competition is working fairly well for consumers.

Our findings

Our final findings show:

  • consumers shop around, switch and value the flexibility offered by credit cards
  • competition is focused on certain product features such as introductory promotional offers and rewards. There is less competitive pressure on interest rates outside of promotional offers and on other fees and charges
  • higher risk consumers have a more limited choice of products and providers and have concerns when shopping around for credit cards
  • new analysis we carried out increased our concern about credit card debt – we found 650,000 people had been in persistent debt for three years or more, and a further 750,000 people had been making systematic minimum repayments for that time


In our final findings report we outline the package of remedies we are taking forward to address our concerns with the credit card market.

Next steps

In April 2017, we published a consultation paper on measures to address persistent credit card debt and require credit card firms to use their data to identify customers at risk of financial difficulties. We also set out details of an industry voluntary agreement to give customers more control over credit limit increases.

Interim report

In November 2015 we published our interim report which set out our views based on our work to date.

Show MS14/6.2 Interim report (PDF)

Read our interim report online

Terms of reference

This outlined the scope of our market study.

Show MS14/6.1 Terms of reference (PDF)