Research and Statistics

Consumers shying away from credit cards when shopping online


The poor economy and consumers’ growing aversion to carrying large credit card balances may be why more alternative forms of payment are being used for online purchases.

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The poor economy and consumers’ growing aversion to carrying large credit card balances may be why more alternative forms of payment are being used for online purchases.

According to the February 2010 “Online Retail Payments Forecast 2010-2014” Javelin study, while e-commerce grew 10.8 percent in 2009, shoppers are more frequently using debit cards or other payment methods to make those purchases.

The comfort level of shopping online has grown over the years, with 63 percent of U.S. consumers saying they buy online, according to the study. By 2014, it is expected that the number of online shoppers will increase to 78 percent.

“In addition, as the total value of purchases continues to increase, consumers will often — by necessity — need to continue to diversity the payment options they use. For example, they may want to move away from credit when they reach an available credit limit, or shift from debit card or ACH\u2010based options when their checking account balance is too low,” says the study.

Online purchases made via major credit cards is expected to decline from a peak of 54.8 percent in 2008 to 39 percent by 2014. Debit cards will comprise 26 percent of online sales by 2014.

In 2009, online payment services (i.e. PayPal or Google Checkout) comprised 51 percent of online purchases, surpassing gift cards (41 percent), store-branded credit cards (27 percent), prepaid cards (17 percent), online credit services such as Bill Me Later (17 percent) and store-branded debit cards (16 percent).

The Javelin study outlines the following factors contributing to the decrease in online credit card spending:

  • An inability or reluctance to use credit cards because of the state of the economy (48 percent of consumers say they have decreased their use of credit cards in 2009) and a resulting shift to use of debit cards to help control purchasing.
  • Continued expansion in the number and prevalence of alternative payment options at merchant sites.
  • Online credit services that offer credit terms that are superior to those offered by credit cards (11 percent of consumers who used an alternative online payment option selected the option because it enabled them to delay payment).
  • Enhanced security features (among consumers who used an alternative online payment option, 19 percent did so to avoid misuse of their payment information, and 14 percent did so to keep their identity private).
  • Recommendations by a bank or other trusted provider.

Javelin reports that as a result of these influences, alternative payment methods will account for 19 percent of total dollar retail payments online in 2014, and credit card usage for online shopping will drop.

The chart compares the online purchase volume and share of credit and debit cards from 2008 to the present, with forecasted growth or decline through 2014.



See related: 4 ways to safeguard personal information online, Despite lingering fears, virtual credit cards stall, Consumer rights for credit and debit cards

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