If you’ve found yourself using your debit or credit card more often, and mainly for small amounts, you’re not alone.

New figures from The UK Cards Association show that consumers are increasingly using cards instead of cash for lower value transactions. 

This has had what the association calls a “dramatic” effect on the value average card payment, which has dropped below £45 for the first time since 2002. 

As of January 2016, the value of the average payment had dropped by £2.60 in just 12 months. 

That value, which stands at £44.85, has been falling since it peaked at £55.55 in July 2011. 

There has been a dramatic drop in the average value of card transactions in recent years

Richard Koch, head of policy at The UK Cards Association
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While the amount we spend each time is going down, both the overall amount spend and the number of times we spend are going up. 

The number of purchases increased by 11.3% year-on-year and total card spending went up by 7.9%. 

Contactless payments – the reason many of us are able to go cash-free – accounted for 11.6% of all card purchases in January, up from 4.1% a year ago. 

The total amount spent on cards in January was £52.6bn, of which 71% (£37.4bn) was on debit cards. 

Richard Koch, head of policy at The UK Cards Association, said: “There has been a dramatic drop in the average value of card transactions in recent years. 

“We are increasingly making lower-value internet purchases for digital content and subscriptions and now one in seven card transactions are made using contactless cards, it is a trend that we expect to continue.”

Earlier this year, Bilgo reported that shoppers had spent £1bn using contactless cards in November 2015 – the first time the milestone had been passed in a single month.

Figures from The UK Cards Association showed that contactless spending was 10% up on October and almost four times the amount spent in January 2015. 

Tami Hargreaves, Barclaycard’s commercial director for digital consumer payments, said so-called ‘touch and go’ payments are now “the norm for an increasing number of everyday purchases”.

Contactless payments accounted for 11.6% of all card purchases in January. Image by LDprod/Shutterstock.com

"Whether it’s grabbing a coffee on the way to work – or stocking up on groceries on the way home – the speed and ease of contactless means it’s now the preferred way to pay for shoppers across the country,” she said.

“As the old adage goes – ‘time is money’ and we expect contactless payments to continue to break new records throughout 2016.”

Barclaycard isn’t alone in thinking that contactless will hit new heights in 2016 as a new ad campaign for Visa shows. 

The ads, which use the slogan “cashfree and proud”, encourage cardholders to stop carrying cash and rely completely on their cards.