Infographic on Consumer Preferences and the Use of Cash

Did you know that consumers who generally prefer debit or credit cards are 49 percent likely to use cash for purchases less than $20? The infographic below is based on a working paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Cash Product Office. It shows how US consumers prefer to pay for everyday things, and how their preference and the purchase amount affect their likelihood to use cash.

CASH: Americans still like it.

Understanding how consumers use cash is vital for the Federal Reserve to estimate the future demand for cash in a dynamic payment landscape.

The Federal Reserve’s 2012 Diary of Consumer Payments Choice study found that even though US consumers prefer to pay for everyday things differently, cash is still popular.

CASH is the first payment preference for 30% of consumers.

Breakdown of payment preference: 30% Cash; 22% Credit Card; 43% Debit Card; and 5% Other 30%
Credit Card
* 43%
Debit Card

With almost 1/3 of consumers preferring cash, no wonder U.S. currency in circulation continues to rise.

* The 5% is attributed to other payment types.

Even for consumers who prefer cards,

CASH is the second preference.

60% for those who prefer debit cards
55% for those who prefer credit cards

CASH is used by most consumers for purchases under $10, regardless of preference.

Here is how consumers with different payment preferences chose to use cash.

< $10 < $20 $20-$50 < $70
Cash users 90% 91% 60% 42%
Debit card users 53% 51% 13% 8%
Credit card users 55% 49% 9% 6%

Because cash is the preferred payment method for small value transactions, and the majority of transactions are low value transactions, cash is used 46 percent of the time for transactions.

Download the Cash Infographic (pdf, 508kb)