Cash Preferred by UK and US Shoppers

calendar iconFeb 3, 2021


When people want to pay quickly, securely and anonymously, just one payment option has it all: cash. Unsurprisingly, research conducted by YouGov in November 2020 indicates that, on both sides of the pond, cash is the most popular way to pay for shopping.

Despite the increased usage of digital payments over the course of the pandemic, Americans and Brits are still most likely to reach for cash when it comes to the weekly shop. Respondents in both countries were asked to indicate which payment methods they typically use for in-store purchases, and cash came out on top in America (with 60 percent using it) and the UK (with 68 percent using it).

The survey also indicated a slight difference in contactless versus chip and PIN card usage. In the UK, contactless debit cards were the second-most popular payment choice after cash, whereas in the States, chip and PIN debit cards took the number two slot. YouGov attributed this to greater security concerns around contactless payments in America, and a larger, more fragmented market in which there are simply fewer contactless payment cards in circulation.

Perhaps most surprisingly, cheques still have a small share of the payments landscape, with six percent of transactions conducted by cheque in the States and two percent in Britain.

In America, there is little evidence of a generational divide in cash preference, with 49 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they particularly like to use cash as compared to a slightly higher 53 percent of over-55s. In the UK, the difference is somewhat more pronounced, with 42 percent of over-55s indicating a firm preference for cash versus 31 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

Although cash is king, the spread of answers—from cards to mobile payment apps and even cheques—indicates a need to preserve payment choice, so everyone can pay in the way that’s right for them. It is also crystal clear that, despite the changes wrought on our lives by the pandemic, cash is here to stay.

Last Updated: Feb 2, 2021