Purchases and transactions through credit cards have overtaken debit cards in 2012, bringing an end to over 20 years of dominance by debit cards, according to The Nilson Report.

Based on a study projecting results for US payment cards until 2017, the report found that credit cards spending accounted for 52.82%, against 47.18% for debit cards. It also found that spending for goods and services through commercial credit, debit and prepaid cards reached $4.633trn in 2012 and is expected to reach $7.285trn by 2017.

In 2017, credit cards are projected to account for 54.72%, while debit cards for 45.28%.

The Nilson Report publisher David Robertson said there is a finite amount of money in deposit accounts owned by consumers.

"Credit cards are different. Because they can borrow money and pay it back over time, they can spend more on credit than they have in their own accounts," Robertson added.

Among all the cards, Visa debit cards topped the list in 2012 with 23.83% market share, followed by Visa credit cards with 21.18%, American Express credit cards with 12.70%, MasterCard credit cards with 11.53%, and MasterCard debit cards with 9.67%.

However, in 2017, Visa credit card purchase volume is projected to have 23.65% share than Visa debit cards at 22.98%. American Express’s share is projected to grow to 13.36%, whereas MasterCard’s credit card share is expected to drop 10.82%, and its debit card share may decline to 9.40%.