Big buys go on our credit cards, little ones on prepaid cards

Americans are more likely to use credit cards for bigger charges and prepaid cards for smaller purchases, according to a 2013 report by the Federal Reserve System.

In the study, which looked at card and banking trends in the U.S., it was found that more than a third of Americans used their credit cards for purchases of $50 or more, the most frequently used denomination for credit cards. Least common were smaller denominations. Only 9 percent used their credit cards for denominations of less than $5.

In contrast, prepaid cards were more likely to be used for denominations of under $5 (20 percent), compared to $50 or more 16 percent of the time.

This study corresponds with a poll conducted by, which found that one in three people use a credit or debit card for items less than $5 for in-person purchases.

A sample of 1,182 financial institutions participated, with a margin of error of less than plus or minus 5 percent. Surveys were collected between January and May 2013 by mail, fax, email and online.


See related: Using prepaid cards to boost rewards, More infographics

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Updated: 03-23-2019