Cash is no longer king as cards take over

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The Independent Online

More than £1.1bn was withdrawn from Barclays cash machines in the run up to Christmas, but cash withdrawals were down 8 per cent on the same period last year, as people turn to spending on credit cards rather than cash.

The figures, taken from transactions made through Barclays and Woolwich's 4,000 ATMs countrywide in December, show the average withdrawal from its machines was £70. This is slightly higher than last year, when the average withdrawal up to 26 December was £68.

The busiest day for ATM withdrawals was 21 December, when nearly £70m was taken from cash machines.

There were even significant amounts of cash withdrawn on Christmas Day, when 81,412 transactions were made, and £5.7m dispensed from Barclays and Woolwich machines. Barclays and Woolwich do not charge any cardholder for making a withdrawal from their machines.

The group's busiest cash machine in the country was Forest Road, in Walthamstow, East London, where £1.25m was dispensed throughout December. Other popular machine sites over the festive period were also in London.

The top five Barclays cash machines from 1 December to 26 December were: Forest Road, Upton Park with £1.19m, Notting Hill also with £1.19m, Alperton, near Wembley, with £1.18m and West Kensington with £1.12m.

While consumer cash spending may have slowed this Christmas, credit cards use in December has increased. Many credit companies were expecting a bumper spend this Christmas as people take advantage of cheap borrowing rates, with the internet bank Egg predicting £7bn will be spent on credit cards in December. Figures released yesterday from Barclaycard show spending increased by 7 per cent in the week leading up to Christmas compared to this time last year.

Meanwhile, the Consumers' Association yesterday put Barclays and its high street rivals, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB, in the firing line for offering customers paltry interest rates on current accounts, which can be as low as 0.1 per cent.