Survey Reveals How Americans Pay In 2015

Aug. 25, 2015

Cash, checks and debit/credit cards are still the most popular way to pay in the U.S., but alternative methods are increasing according to new research released by Blackhawk Network.

According to “How America Pays in 2015: Traditional, Digital and Mobile Convergence in Payments,” -- a survey of more than 1,000 Americans and their preferences for traditional and emerging payments tools -- it’s all about giving the consumer a mix of payment options.

“Consumers still have a strong preference for traditional payment methods like debit cards and prepaid cards. Those payments tools are not going away anytime soon, even as interest in and usage of new payment methods grows,” said Teri Llach, chief marketing officer at Blackhawk Network, a pioneer of prepaid gift cards, payments tools and rewards delivered via a robust and convenient network. “Our findings prove that payments is not either/or when it comes to legacy payments versus emerging products; it’s really about convenience and providing a mix of options.”

The research revealed that:

o 93 percent used cash
o 68 percent used debit cards
o 68 percent used checks
o 67 percent used credit cards
o 62 percent used PayPal
o 48 percent used retailer gift cards
o 45 percent used Visa or MasterCard gift cards
o 33 percent used prepaid debit cards
o 14 percent made mobile payments on smartphones or tablets

Other key findings include:

New payment methods growing, cash and checks declining: Sixty-eight percent of mobile payment users report that they are using the alternative payment methods more than last year. Cash and checks saw the greatest declines in use overall.

Gift cards’ popularity is significant: Eighty-seven percent of consumers surveyed think merchant-specific gift cards are convenient to use, even higher than bank-connected debit cards (82 percent). Additionally, gift cards are now mainstream payment methods with almost half of consumers (48 percent) using them in the last year.

Mobile wallets now used by 25 percent of smartphone owners: What do consumers place in their mobile wallets? Sixty-four percent of users have debit cards in their mobile wallets, 58 percent have credit cards and 45 percent have gift cards.

Cash, cards considered most convenient payment methods; checks and bitcoin least convenient: When asked to select the most convenient payment methods, consumers selected cash (93 percent), credit cards (92 percent), PayPal (90 percent), and retailer-specific gift cards (87 percent). Ranking most inconvenient were bitcoin and checks.