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Cash Still King for Small Purchases...But That's Changing

Millennials Most Likely to Pay with Plastic; People Over 50 Overwhelmingly Prefer Cash

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately two in three credit cardholders typically use cash for purchases of less than five dollars, according to a new CreditCards.com report. But a clear generational divide in the way Americans pay for small purchases means that might not be the case for much longer.

The tendency to use cash increases sharply with age. Almost eight in 10 credit cardholders age 50 and older prefer to use cash for small transactions. For cardholders between ages 18 and 49, it's virtually a dead heat between cash (52%) and credit/debit cards (46%).

The youngest cardholders (18-29 year-olds) are the only age group to prefer plastic. Digging a little deeper, millennials with credit cards prefer debit over credit by a ratio of nearly three-to-one. Among all cardholders, debit outpaces credit by a two-to-one margin.

"The question is whether millennials will eventually embrace credit as they age and their financial situations change," said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst, CreditCards.com. "I believe they will, due in large part to credit's more lucrative rewards programs and better consumer protections."

Other key findings:

  • Cash is the preferred payment method for almost eight in 10 rural cardholders versus just 62% of city dwellers and suburbanites.
  • Whereas 70% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats who have major credit cards would rather pay for small purchases with cash, that holds true for only 59% of independents.
  • Cardholders without children under 18 are 10 percentage points more likely to use cash than those with young children.

More information is available here:


Princeton Survey Research Associates International obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 983 major credit cardholders living in the continental United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline and cell phone in English from July 17-27, 2014. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error is ± 3.7 percentage points.

About CreditCards.com:

CreditCards.com, named a "Best Site for Managing Your Credit" by MSN Money, is a leading online credit card marketplace, bringing consumers and credit card issuers together. At its free website, consumers can compare hundreds of credit card offers from America's leading issuers and banks and apply securely, online. CreditCards.com is also a destination site for consumers wanting to learn more about credit cards. Offering advice, news, features, statistics and tools, CreditCards.com helps consumers make smart choices about credit cards. In 2013, 19.5 million unique visitors used CreditCards.com to find the right credit card to suit their needs.

For More Information:

Ted Rossman
Public Relations Manager
[email protected] 

SOURCE CreditCards.com

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