Study: Credit Cards Rebound in Consumer Payment Share

Credit cards and prepaid cards increased their share of payment instruments that households use in a typical month, according to results from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s 2016 and 2017 Surveys of Consumer Payment Choice released today. Credit card payments reversed a decline seen in 2015 and climbed by more than two percentage points to 23.2 percent of all payments. Prepaid cards continued steady growth, reaching a 2.1 percent share — up 44 percent from 2015.

Debit card use dipped slightly from previous years to 31.8 percent. Card payments combined grew to 57.1 percent share in 2017. Cash held steady at 27.4 percent of all payments, while paper checks continued their long-term decline, falling from a 6.5 percent share in 2015 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Electronic payments like bill pay fell from 9.6 percent to 8.3 percent share.

The survey showed that the average consumer made 70 payments per month, holding to a consistent trend over the past nine years. Online purchases accounted for 12 percent of all purchases, up from 10 percent in 2015. Person-to-person payments held steady at 4.4 percent of all payments.