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Millennial Consumers Driving Down Cash Usage for Small Buys

Approximately six in 10 credit cardholders typically use cash for purchases less than $5, according to a new report. Twenty-seven percent prefer debit cards and 11 percent normally use a credit card for small purchases.

At the same time, the use of cash is down seven percentage points from 2014, while debit cards are up five percentage points and credit cards are unchanged.

While 41 percent of people under age 50 prefer to use cash for small transactions and 40 percent prefer debit, consumers age 50 and up clearly prefer cash at 74 percent. Millennials are the most likely to use debit (46 percent) and credit cards (18 percent).

"I'm confident that debit and credit cards will gain even more market share in the years to come," stated Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for "Credit cards offer better protection against identity theft and fraudulent charges, so I think they're the best choice."

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Seventy percent of rural credit cardholders prefer to use cash for small purchases compared to 59 percent of urban cardholders and 54 percent of those who live in the suburbs.
  • The vast majority of cardholders in the Northeast and Midwest prefer cash, while just 46 percent of those in the West say the same.
  • The likelihood of using cash decreases as the annual household income increases.

The full report is available here.


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