For holiday spending, most Americans prefer to charge it

Rewards are the biggest driver behind their choice of credit cards

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller

Credit cards are still king when it comes to paying for holiday purchases, though their dominance is slipping a bit. 

Discover surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults about which payment methods they’ll use most this holiday season. About a third (32 percent) indicated credit cards would be their go-to payment method, with debit and prepaid cards in a close second at 29 percent. 

Cash ranked third, with almost a quarter (23 percent) saying they would pull out the greenbacks for most of their holiday shopping. That’s up from last year, when only 19 percent cited cash as their preferred payment, while credit card preference is down from 38 percent last year. 

Among those who said they’ll use credit cards the most, 42 percent said rewards, points and miles are the biggest driver behind their choice. Other primary reasons were the convenience of credit cards (28 percent), the ability to easily track spending (18 percent) and being able to make purchases when there isn’t enough cash on hand (12 percent). 

Discover Financial Services has been conducting its annual holiday shopping survey since 2004. This year’s installment surveyed 2,008 U.S. consumers age 18 and older in late October, with results released Nov. 20.

For holiday spending, most Americans prefer to charge it

See related: It's the thought that counts: Americans plan holiday gift thrift, Rack up card rewards with holiday bonuses, perks, More infographics

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Updated: 03-22-2019