Cash remains king – 67% of Americans still use traditional in-store payment
February 12th, 2024, Kineree Shah

Cash remains king – 67% of Americans still use traditional in-store payment

Recent data from YouGov Profiles provides an overview of how American adults are engaging with mobile payment systems, and their choices for in-store and online purchases over the last 30 days.

According to the data, PayPal leads the pack among mobile payment apps, with 37% of Americans saying they've used the service in the past month. This is followed by Zelle (17%), Venmo (15%), Apple Pay (14%), and Google Wallet (10%). However, a quarter of consumers reported not using any mobile payment or deposit systems/apps, highlighting a divide - and therefore, opportunity - in the adoption of digital payment technologies.

When it comes to in-store purchases, traditional payment methods still hold sway. Cash is the most commonly used form of payment, with 67% of respondents favoring it, demonstrating its enduring appeal for physical transactions.

Debit cards (42% using chip and 35% swipe) and credit cards (35% using chip and 26% swipe) also remain popular. Contactless payments via debit or credit card and through mobile payment apps each captured 17% usage, signaling a growing interest in faster, more convenient payment methods.

The landscape shifts when looking at online purchases. Credit cards are the most used payment method (54%), followed closely by debit cards (49%). PayPal stands out as the leading mobile payment option for online transactions, used by two-fifth of Americans (42%), underscoring its strength in the e-commerce space.

Gift cards (31%) and "buy now, pay later" systems (10%) also play significant roles in online shopping, reflecting diverse consumer preferences and the increasing complexity of the online payment ecosystem.

The insights gleaned from YouGov Profiles offer a snapshot of the current digital and traditional payment usage among American adults. With PayPal leading the charge in mobile and online payments, it's clear that digital wallets are making significant inroads into the consumer payment space. However, the enduring popularity of cash and direct bank-linked payments for in-store purchases highlights a diverse landscape where traditional and modern payment methods coexist.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for the US is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race.