Infographic: Cards gain ground as payment method


Cash is still king, but fewer Americans are using paper-based payments in 2016 compared to 2015, and almost all plastic and electronic forms have gained ground, a new Blackhawk Network survey finds. 

Bills and coins are still used by the largest number of Americans, with 87 percent indicating they’ve paid with cash in the past year. But that’s down from 93 percent in 2015. That means 1 in 8 Americans now report using no cash at all over the past 12 months. 

Checks, the other traditional paper payment, saw an even larger decline. In 2015, checks shared second place with debit cards, with 68 percent of respondents reporting their use in the previous 12 months. But by the 2016 survey, check usage had dropped to fifth in the rankings at 60 percent. 

Debit cards are still the second most widely used payment form, posting a 7 percent jump in 2016 to three-quarters of Americans. This tightens the usage gap between cash and debit considerably, from a 25 percent differential in 2015 to just 12 percent today. 

Credit cards were also gainers, and maintained their third-place rank at 69 percent versus 67 percent last year. But fourth-place PayPal made larger strides in 2016, now sitting closely behind credit cards at 67 percent. 

Rounding out the payment types, prepaid debit cards and mobile payments saw noteworthy rises, while the use of retailer gift cards dropped from almost half of Americans to 43 percent this year. 

The survey, “How America Pays in 2016,” was conducted online by Blackhawk Network in March 2016. The sample size included 1,037 American respondents age 18 and older who represent U.S. population demographics. The results were released May 11.


See related: Preferred payment method differs by income, age, text,More infographics

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Published: June 10, 2016

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Updated: 10-24-2016

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