Credit Scores and Reports

Infographic: Debit, credit cards still killing off checks


The Fed’s latest payments study shows checks account for only 12 percent of U.S. noncash transactions compared to 16 percent in 2012

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Every three years, the Federal Reserve calculates how many of our country’s noncash transactions are taken care of with checks, cards and electronic withdrawals. And every three years, the share of checks withers.

The Fed’s 2015 report, released Dec. 22, 2016, shows that checks now account for only 12 percent of U.S. noncash transactions. That’s compared to 16 percent three years earlier, and almost a quarter (23 percent) in 2009.

Thirty-five years ago, a whopping 86 percent of noncash payments were made by check, with credit cards making up almost all of the remainder. But by 2000, debit cards had stormed on the scene and gained a foothold, while credit cards moved above a 20 percent share.

Credit cards have held steady at 22 to 23 percent of noncash payments every year since 2000, except for the post-recession year of 2009, when they slid to 19 percent of transactions. But debit cards have soared in the mix, climbing rapidly to become the most frequent noncash payment by 2009. Today, they command a 41 percent share of the pie.

In addition to cards and checks, automated transfers by ACH and prepaid debit cards together accounted for about a quarter (23 percent) of 2015’s noncash transactions.

The 2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study combines data gathered from three individual surveys commissioned by the Fed.

See related: Poll: Pay with cash or card for $5 purchase?, More infographics

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