Wallets get thinner as U.S. consumers avoid cash

Mobile payment apps gain traction

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


With mobile apps gaining traction as an accepted way to pay bills and other people, cash is taking up residence in fewer and fewer wallets. And even when there are some bills in the billfold, many Americans are carrying a minimal amount, and aren’t pulling it out for purchases very often.

U.S. Bank’s Cash Behavior Survey found that the preference for using digital apps to make payments slightly edged out the preference for paying with cash, at 47 percent versus 45 percent. It also found that men are more likely users of person-to-person payment apps, at 48 percent of male respondents compared to 38 percent for women.

The survey findings also highlighted how many consumers are going without cash at all, or accessing it infrequently. Forty-six percent of respondents said they have no cash on hand more than half the time, and an additional 5 percent said they never use cash anymore.

When consumers do have some money in their wallet, about half (49 percent) keep just $20 or less on hand. And a comparable share (50 percent) say they use cash fewer than eight days per month. That means, on average, they’re going five or more days between cash purchases.

U.S. Bank’s survey drew from a nationally representative sample of about 2,000 U.S. adults age 19-71 who have a current banking relationship (checking or savings) and who own a smartphone. The online survey was administered from June 1-7, 2017, with results released Aug. 16.

Cash getting scarce

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

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Updated: 02-17-2019