Cash is alive and kicking

While there has been speculation that we will soon be witnessing the “death of cash”, a Cardtronics study finds that cash is alive and well, and leading the way for some payment categories.

Cash has an important place in the wallets and minds of Americans and is even leading the way in some methods of payment. The ‘Health of Cash‘ study commissioned by Cardtronics showed that Americans valued choice of payments as important, with 91% surveyed having used cash in the last six months; 89% liked being able to choose how to pay for goods and services and 61% admitted to getting upset when being told businesses don’t accept cash.

Easy, Convenient and Anonymous

When asked “Which is your most preferred payment method?” consumers selected cash as their second most-preferred method, at 27%, just behind debit cards at 33%. Credit cards, digital and checks rounded out the list with 22%, 15%, and 3%, respectively.

“After convenience, people continue to be highly concerned about payment safety, with 84% describing themselves as worried about data security,” said Tom Pierce, chief marketing officer, Cardtronics. “Nearly half the survey respondents said cash was the safest way to pay. And when the attribute is privacy, cash wins again, with 60% of consumers, a clear majority selecting cash as the top choice.”

The survey also found that among all consumers, 85% always try to keep cash on hand, and two-thirds (67%) say they feel nervous when they don’t have cash with them.

Cash is King, for P2P and small purchases. 

Cash is still the most commonly used payment method for paying people back. Over the past six months, 62% of consumers used cash for Person 2 Person (P2P) payments, with 33% of people using non-banking P2P apps (such as Paypal) and only 31% still using cheques.

When purchasing items the study found that 68% of people use cash for purchases under $10 and 55% of people used cash for purchases under $20. Larger purchases tended to be made using non-cash payment methods.

Millennials have the most even spread of payment methods. 

Amongst the Millennial demographic (people born between 1983 – 2000) top choice was cash (29%), followed by debit card (26%), digital (25%), then credit card (17%) and cheques were least popular with only 3% of milennials using them.


Millennials contribute to both cash and cashless forms of payment methods.  When comparing Millennials to the general consumer group, they are more likely to have used both non-bank P2P apps (42% vs. 33%) and bank P2P services (27% vs. 16%). And, Millennials are more likely to have used cash (67% vs. 62%) for P2P payments.

Perhaps this pragmatism toward purchasing items is the most relevant point. For services to remain relevant, they need to be easy to use, convenient to access and appropriate for the task in hand.