Study: 63% of C-store Purchases Still Made With Cash

HOUSTON — Cash is the top method of payment for the majority of convenience store purchases, at 63 percent, followed by debit cards at 41 percent, according to a new survey by Cardtronics Inc. Findings reveal that despite consumers having access to and using a wider variety of payment methods, cash remains widely used and frequently selected for all kinds of payments.

More than 1,000 U.S. adults participated in the Cardtronics-sponsored survey, which was conducted in late 2015.

"Cash is king for many consumers, even in today's expanding universe of digital payment options," stated Cardtronics Chief Marketing Officer Tom Pierce. "Our survey data clearly shows that in a competitive payments environment, cash is a predominant payment form and sits atop multiple spending categories."

When asked what type of payment they have used in the past year in a variety of situations, consumers revealed that while they use a variety of payment methods, cash is the No. 1 choice in numerous scenarios:

  • Paying someone back — Cash: 78 percent; Check: 18 percent
  • Convenience store purchases — Cash: 63 percent; Debit: 41 percent
  • Snacks away from home — Cash: 67 percent; Debit: 37 percent
  • Grocery store — Cash: 52 percent; Debit: 51 percent
  • Small business — Cash: 49 percent; Credit: 43 percent
  • Restaurant — Cash: 53 percent; Credit: 48 percent
  • Tipping — Cash: 78 percent; Credit: 27 percent

In addition to identifying where and when cash still plays a prominent role in consumer spending, the survey findings also identify how different demographics use cash.

"There is a myth in the marketplace that millennials have abandoned cash in favor of mobile and other digital payments. It's simply not true," Pierce said. "What we found exposed the myth, with millennials embracing cash usage along with new payment methods. Millennials take an open-minded view of payments and cash plays a pivotal role in their payment choice mix."

More than half of millennials (57 percent) reported using a greater variety of payment methods than in the past, but nearly 45 percent of them also said they are more likely to pay more with cash now than they did a few years ago.

Among all adults, 37 percent reported that their use of cash had increased. The survey also found women are more likely than men (39 percent vs. 29 percent, respectively) to use cash to help stay on budget.

Cardtronic provides services to more than 190,000 retail ATMs in North America and Europe.

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