BACK

Research and Statistics

Credit overtakes debit as preferred bill payment method

New study shows debit has also lost ground to credit in online retail and travel

Summary

Since 2016, consumers have preferred credit over debit for online retail, travel and digital media. A new study shows paying bills online is now on that list.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

It appears credit cards have finally vanquished debit cards in what had been debit’s last stronghold online: bill payments.

Since 2016, consumers have preferred credit over debit in three of the four online purchase categories – online retail, travel and digital media – according to data from Mercator Advisory Group. And in 2018, credit cards padded their lead in all three.

But while debit had held an edge with consumers for bill pay, that changed with Mercator’s latest annual reading, where a preference for paying bills with credit surpassed those preferring to pay with debit.

For the first time, that places credit cards in a position of dominance across the entire online spectrum.

See related: Most drivers swipe debit at the pump in lieu of credit cards

Credit’s preference margin over debit is still slim for bill pay, at just a 3 percent differential (25 percent vs. 22 percent). And it’s in the single digits for digital media, too, with credit leading debit by just 7 percent (22 percent vs. 15 percent).

But for online retail and travel, consumers’ preference for credit is substantial – and growing – with credit’s preference now being more than twice as large as debit’s in both categories.

Mercator’s latest installment of the data is published in its report “U.S. Consumers and Credit: Rising Usage.” Based on surveys with more than 3,000 U.S. adults in June 2018, the findings were released Dec. 25.

What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Most drivers swipe debit at the pump in lieu of rewards-earning credit cards

While credit cards seem an obvious choice for pay-at-the-pump convenience while also potentially earning rewards, more drivers are swiping a debit card for their fill-ups.

Published: February 27, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: September 11th, 2019
Business
15.45%
Airline
17.38%
Cash Back
17.53%
Reward
17.40%
Student
17.58%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.