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Credit card use for groceries has climbed 70% in four months: poll

A new Bankrate survey shows 46% of in-person grocery shoppers paid with a credit card in April


A new Bankrate survey shows a sharp increase in consumers paying for groceries with credit cards during the coronavirus pandemic. Read on for more stats on how people are getting food now.

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The coronavirus crisis has compelled many Americans to use their credit cards for groceries, according to a new survey from Bankrate.

In December 2019, another Bankrate study showed half of grocery shoppers paid with a debit card, 27% with a credit card and 22% with cash.

But in April 2020, 46% of in-person grocery shoppers paid with a credit card, 39% paid with a debit card and 15% with cash.

And 52% of Northeasterners paid with credit in the latest study, compared with 45% of the rest of the country, which might suggest that area has been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Ted Rossman, industry analyst at and Bankrate, said in a news release the findings indicate a lot of people don’t have the available funds to pay right now, so they’re financing these purchases with credit.

That also fits with’s latest survey, which found 28 million Americans have added to their credit card debt over the past two months.

“If you’re struggling financially, contact your credit card issuer to see if they can cut you a break. Many are lowering interest rates, waiving fees and rearranging due dates upon request,” Rossman said.

See related: How to manage your credit cards during the coronavirus outbreak

Contactless payments not on the rise, despite coronavirus crisis

Bankrate’s April 2020 survey also revealed that only 10% of in-person grocery shoppers paid with a contactless method, which would be more hygienic than using a payment terminal.

Reasons people might not be using contactless payments include not knowing about them, not having access to them, or simply following old habits.

According to the survey, the No. 1 type of payment for takeout orders was credit cards (51%) followed by debit cards (32%) and cash (17%)

Compare that with figures from December 2019: 42% of restaurant-goers paid with a debit card, 30% with a credit card and 28% with cash.

See related: Should you use cash, credit or debit?

Most people still went out to shop for food

For the month of April, most survey-takers (72%) bought groceries by actually visiting a store, but nearly half (49%) picked up takeout, some (28%) had prepared food delivered, a small number (13%) had groceries delivered from a local store, another 13% had a national service deliver their groceries and 7% got deliveries from a meal-kit service.

Older people went to the supermarket the most (80%) and 35% of them had food delivered, while 62% of millennials went to the grocery store and 54% had food delivered.

Many consumers feel food delivery stimulates the economy

Among all U.S. adults, almost half (49%) responded that having food delivered stimulates the economy and keeps people working and 26% said they felt guilty asking others to prepare and deliver the food due to the health risks.

For only those who had food delivered, 62% said it stimulates the economy, 27% feel guilty risking others’ health and 11% didn’t know.

And 67% of those living in the Northeast who had food delivered said it stimulated the economy, versus 60% in other regions.

See related: How I’m spending differently during the pandemic

Lots of people tipped more than usual for deliveries

Those who had food delivered generally tipped more than usual (62%), and 21% of those tipped much more. Only 6% tipped food deliverers less.

The breakdown of those who tipped more included 67% of millennials, 61% of baby boomers and 57% of Gen Xers.

Many consumers who had food delivered (83%) experienced at least one issue with the delivery, including items being out of stock (54%), an inability to schedule a delivery time (34%), high service fees (23%) and late delivery (21%).

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