Two in five US consumers still cite cash as their preferred payment method

WSFS survey graphic of trends in cash usage by US consumers in 2021
CASHING IN: The survey revealed that many US consumers prefer to pay for small purchases using cash

Two-fifths of US consumers (40%) still prefer to use cash and just under 40% of US businesses (39%) maintain a cash-only policy for purchases of less than US$20 “despite the availability of technology-driven forms of payment such as credit cards, debit cards and mobile wallets,” a survey by a division of WSFS Bank has found.

The survey also shows that more than half of respondents (51%) believe that “using cash helps them budget their money”, with that figure rising to 58% of the Generation Z demographic (aged 18-24), “52% of whom cite cash as their preferred payment method”.

“However, many respondents said they cap their cash purchases at $31, as 54% only carry $1-$50 in cash on them,” the researchers say.

“When asked what they use cash for, the most popular uses were: leaving tips (48%); purchasing fast food (44%); purchasing candy and snacks (37%); purchasing coffee (32%) and paying for gas (27%).”

“With many small purchases being paid for with cash, the majority (71%) of financial decision makers agreed that there is nothing worse than when someone pays for a small purchase with a big bill, like a $50 or $100,” the researchers add.

The survey of 1,500 US consumers aged 18 and over and 500 financial decision makers was conducted on behalf of WSFS’s Cash Connect cash logistic services division in June 2021.

The findings come as a forecast by Juniper Research published in July predicted growth of almost 300% in the total value of contactless transactions in the US over the next five years, while the 2021 Debit Issuer Study published in August identified a six-fold year-over-year growth in contactless debit card transactions at tap-and-go terminals in the US in 2020.

Two in five US consumers still cite cash as their preferred payment method was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.