U.S. Consumers Embrace Freedom to Choose Cash

A new Cardtronics survey finds that 91% of consumers used cash in the last six months.

September 20, 2017

HOUSTON – Cash still has an important place in Americans’ wallets and hearts, according to the Cardtronics Health of Cash survey. While people are adding digital options to their payments toolkit, there is compelling evidence that cash has formed a durable and enduring bond with American consumers, who embrace choice rather than cashless in the way they pay.

Cardtronics partnered with Edelman Intelligence to conduct the Health of Cash Study, which found in a wide range of payment scenarios that consumers continue to value choice in their payment and spending options, and continue to use cash as part of their broader payment mix.

The Health of Cash survey tracks consumer payment behaviors both in terms of which payment methods people have used in the past six months, as well as which is their most preferred. In both cases, the data is clear that cash usage is deeply woven into the fabric of Americans’ payment behavior. Regarding the percent of the population using each payment type for either purchases or person-to-person (P2P) payments in the last six months:

  • 91% used cash
  • 72% used debit card
  • 68% used credit card
  • 51% used digital (e.g. mobile wallet, P2P apps, retailer apps)

Cash, which notably remains the most commonly used form of payment, continues to play a meaningful and often leading role among the full range of cash, card and digital payment options. Merchants also prefer cash payments.

When asked “Which is your most preferred payment method?,” consumers selected cash as their second most-preferred method, at 27%, just behind debit cards at 33%. Credit cards, digital and checks rounded out the list with 22%, 15% and 3%, respectively.

“After convenience, people continue to be highly concerned about payment safety, with 84% describing themselves as worried about data security,” said Tom Pierce, chief marketing officer for Cardtronics, in a press release. “Cash is once again identified as best, this time by 48% of survey respondents asked to choose the safest way to pay. And when the attribute is privacy, cash wins again, with 60% of consumers, a clear majority, selecting cash as the top choice.”