Under $10: Nearly Half of Consumers Pay with Cash

Cash Register with US Currency

Consumers across the United States continue to use cash extensively for small-value purchases according to a new report from the Federal Reserve’s Cash Product Office (CPO).

The CPO’s annual Diary of Consumer Payment Choice survey found that for payments made in 2018, cash was used for:

  • 49% of payments less than $10
  • 42% of payments less than $25

Of all cash payments reported by Diary participants, 80% were less than $25.

2018 Payments by Purchase Amount
Cash represented nearly half of all payments under $10 and 42% of payments less than $25.

Graph of 2018 payments by purchase amount

Source: 2019 Findings from the Federal Reserve Diary of Consumer Payment Choice.

While cash remains a popular payment instrument, the 2018 Diary represents the first year cash was not used for the majority of transactions under $10.

The Diary also shows an overall 4 percentage point decline for cash payments year over year. The dip results from one fewer cash payment and two additional transactions noted per month.

Year Cash payments per month Transactions per month
2018 11 43
2017 12 41

Visit 2019 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice for more extensive analysis and Diary methodology, and to download chart data.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.