Cash Tops Gen Z Payment Preferences

Jan 11, 2022

Gen Z consumers prefer to pay using cash, says a Bank of America Global Research survey conducted in ten countries across the globe. They also put quality above price, prefer material goods to experiences such as travel, and are averse to taking on debt, whether through credit cards or loans.

Gen Z—consisting of 2.5 billion people born between 1996 and 2015—is the first generation to have no experience of a pre-internet world. Given 95 percent of U.S. teens have access to a smartphone and 45 percent say they are online ‘almost constantly’, it may seem surprising they are also more likely to choose cash than older generations. However, the debt aversion highlighted by Bank of America’s research may go some way to explaining this, alongside the complete absence of credit cards from their top payment choices.

The insights come from a survey of over 14,500 individuals aged 16+ living in the U.S., Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the UK. Conducted in late August 2020, the survey broke down favoured payment options, showing cash is the top choice for Gen Z, with mobile payment apps second and debit cards third. Previous generations placed cards top, with cash typically in third place.

The survey also found just 14 percent of Gen Z expected their banks to have physical branches, one in three would trust a robot to make their financial decisions, and more than four out of five factor ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance—evaluating a firm’s social and environmental impact) into their investment choices.

Beyond financial factors, the survey revealed over half of Gen Z does not drink alcohol, eSports are more widely watched among them than traditional sports, and 90 percent feel it’s appropriate to use their phone in the bathroom.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2024