These findings come from the 2018 report on the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), the fourth Diary study conducted by the Federal Reserve. A demographically-representative sample of approximately 2,800 individuals participated in the Diary in October 2017. Findings from the 2017 DCPC show:
- Cash continues to be the most frequently used payment instrument, representing 30 percent of all transactions and 55 percent of transactions under $10.
- While online shopping continues to grow, 77 percent of payments were made in-person.1 For these in-person payments, cash accounted for 39 percent of the volume.
- Survey respondents between 18 to 25 years of age and those 45 years and older use cash approximately 34 percent of the time to pay for transactions.
- In 2017, consumers held more cash on average than their 2015 and 2016 counterparts, though the difference was not statistically significant.
Consumers continue to use cash predominantly for smaller value transactions, with cash being used for 55 percent of payments under $10 and for 32 percent of payments between $10 and $24.99. Because the majority of reported transactions were below $25 in value, cash was the most used instrument overall. Debit and credit cards were generally used for larger transactions, with the average debit and credit transaction being $46 and $67, respectively. For purchases between $10 and $24.99, debit cards were used 34 percent of the time. Interestingly, 2017 represents the first year debit was used at a higher rate than cash within this price range.