Trends in Cash Usage

Did you know? Consumers use cash for half of all of their transactions valued at less than $50, and they choose to use cash more frequently than any other payment instrument, including debit or credit cards.1 Cash is either the most used or second most used payment instrument across a wide array of spending categories, and consumers of low-, middle-, and high-income categories all make an average of 23 cash transactions a month.

Moreover, U.S. currency is used widely as a trusted store of value, with over $1 trillion in circulation globally. The Cash Product Office (CPO) of the Federal Reserve System works closely with financial institutions, merchants, and other industry partners and conducts research to understand trends in cash use and the enduring role that cash continues to play in consumer transactions. Select an icon below to learn about a few of these programs.

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It’s commonplace these days to predict the demise of cash. However, evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, conducted in October 2012 by the Boston, Richmond, and San Francisco Federal Reserve Banks suggests otherwise.

Cash plays a dominant role for small-value transactions, is the leading payment instrument for many types of purchases, and stands as the key alternative when other options are not available.

Interested in learning more about how, where, and why consumers use cash? Read our FedNotes paper on Cash Continues to Play a Key Role in Consumer Spending: New Evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice.

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1. Cash Continues to Play a Key Role in Consumer Spending: New Evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice FRBSF FedNotes (April 2014)