Cardholders use debit cards at the point of sale to make purchases debited to their account or at an automated teller machine (ATM) to withdraw cash from their account. Unlike in the case of credit cards, the cardholder’s account is debited immediately.
Some 8.5 million Maestro debit cards are currently circulating in Austria. The number of cash withdrawals via debit cards came to some 148 million transactions in 2012; the value of withdrawals totaled approximately EUR 18,700 million. This averages out to EUR 125 per withdrawal. In addition, no less than 359 million electronic fund transfers with a total value of EUR 17,950 million were made at Austrian points of sale in 2012. In other words, an average amount of EUR 50 was spent per debit card transaction at a point of sale in Austria.
Credit card payments are debited at regular intervals. Cardholders receive a credit card billing statement, usually once a month, listing all purchases, and their cost, during that period. Cardholders may pay the amount on the billing statement in full either immediately or after a certain period (charge cards), or they may pay the amount in installments (revolving cards). Cardholders are thus granted a credit with a very short maturity for the period between the purchase and the due date of the bill.
A total of 2.85 million credit cards issued by various companies (VISA, MasterCard, Diners, and American Express) were in circulation in Austria at the end of 2012, an increase by some 140,000 cards (+5%) against the end of 2011. MasterCard and VISA credit cards predominate among the products used in Austria. In 2012, a total of 95 million payments with a value of EUR 10,210 million were made with credit cards issued in Austria. The average transaction was for an amount of EUR 108.