Who Needs Cash? We all do!

Cash is used by nearly four out of five consumers when they need to pay someone back and, according to one survey, the popular belief that that millennials don’t carry cash may have been busted. So take that personal payment apps!

These findings come from a recent Cardtronics Inc. survey and indicate that in spite of people having access to and using a greater variety of payment methods, cash is widely used for making all sorts of payments—from repaying people to convenience store purchases to tipping.

“Cash is king for many consumers, even in today’s expanding universe of digital payment options,” said Tom Pierce, chief marketing officer, Cardtronics. “Our survey data clearly shows that in a competitive payments environment, cash is a predominant payment form and sits atop multiple spending categories.”

The survey asked, “What type of payment have you used in the past year for the following situations?”  And the answers revealed that while consumers are using a mix of payment methods, time and again, cash is number one in a variety of scenarios, including:

  • Paying someone back – Cash: 78 percent; runner-up Check at 18 percent
  • Convenience store purchases – Cash: 63 percent; runner-up Debit at 41 percent
  • Snacks away from home – Cash: 67 percent; runner-up Debit at 37 percent
  • Grocery Store – Cash: 52 percent; runner-up Debit at 51 percent
  • Small business – Cash: 49 percent; runner-up Credit at 43 percent
  • Restaurant – Cash: 53 percent; runner-up Credit at 48 percent
  • Tipping – Cash: 78 percent; runner-up Credit at 27 percent

The survey findings also provide insights into how different demographic groups use cash.

“There is a myth in the marketplace that millennials have abandoned cash in favor of mobile and other digital payments. It’s simply not true. What we found exposed the myth, with millennials embracing cash usage along with new payment methods. Millennials take an open-minded view of payments and cash plays a pivotal role in their payment choice mix,” says Pierce.

While more than half (57 percent) of millennials reported using a greater variety of payment methods than before, nearly half (45 percent) of that group also said that they’re more likely to pay more with cash now than they did a few years ago. In fact, millennials report increased cash usage at the greatest clip compared with all other survey respondents.

Among all adults, 37 percent said their use of cash had increased.  The survey also found that women are more likely than men (39 vs. 29 percent) to use cash to help stay on budget.

Download the full set of the infographics for additional insight.

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