Debit cards could soon be the payment method of choice for over-18s across Australia, as more people than ever are applying for them.

In fact, the proportion of Australians with a debit card has increased by almost 90 per cent compared to almost two years ago, rising from 19.5 per cent in January 2010 to 36.6 per cent in November 2012.

The Roy Morgan Research Finance Single Source survey also found that this has been at the expense of credit cards, as the proportion of people who own them has fallen from 47.8 per cent to 43.3 per cent during the same period.

Industry communications director at the group Norman Morris said that people are obviously becoming more debt-aware, which is affecting their choice of payments.

“Card providers would need to be mindful of this market trend and make the necessary adjustments to their product offering in order to maintain their appeal in the changing consumer cards landscape,” he commented.

This follows findings from the Australian National Retailers’ Association (ANRA), which showed that many Christmas Eve shoppers turned to cash to make their last minute purchases.

Overall, 59.4 per cent of people said they would be paying for Christmas with cash, while 46.4 per cent would foot the bill with the use of a credit card.

Debit card spending was preferred by 27.7 per cent of respondents, with more women than men resorting to this payment method.

The results showed that when doing last minute shopping, men are much more likely to opt for credit than their female counterparts.

In contrast to the Roy Morgan findings, ANRA chief executive officer Margy Osmond said: “Using a debit card is no longer as popular with Aussie shoppers, who choose to protect their hard earned savings rather than bite into them at Christmas.

“Australian consumers have continued to choose saving over spending throughout 2012 and this trend shows no sign of abating.”