The poor creditworthiness of most Greek citizens puts on hold the finance ministry’s plans to give incentives for the use of credit cards as part of the campaign to fight tax evasion.
Despite the increase in the use of plastic money after the imposition of capital controls in June 2015, the majority of Greeks do not own credit cards. According to Bank of Greece data, 60% less Greeks own credit cards since the onset of the economic crisis. At the same time, Greek banks refuse to issue credit cards to the vast majority of Greeks.
The Bank of Greece figures show that in 2009, there were 6.145 million active credit cards in Greece. At the end of 2015, the number of active credit cards had dwindled to 2.56 million.
More specific data shows that of the current credit card holders, very few maintain sufficient credit on their cards to pay their taxes in up to 12 installments or to make large consumer goods purchases.
Thereby, the draft bill to give tax breaks to citizens who make most of their transactions with credit or debit cards is put on hold again. Also, given that the House will remain closed until the end of August, it is very unlikely that the bill would pass soon enough to apply to the 2016 income tax period. Most likely it will be postponed for next year.
Overall, credit and debit card transactions in 2015 reached 381 million, when there were 286.6 million such transactions in 2014. The value of transactions also increased by 12% to 53.2 billion euros compared to 47.5 billion euros in 2014.