Payments: One Size Doesn't Fit All


Consumers today demand convenience when paying for practically anything, and they demand options. Luckily, the growing array of payment options – from cash and cards to mobile wallets and person-to-person (P2P) apps – gives them a diverse menu of ways to pay. 

Cardtronics’ recent Health of Cash Study captured this “new norm” as well as the reality that consumers still choose and use cash the most in this fragmented payments landscape, at 89 percent. That use contrasts with 74 percent for debit cards, 66 percent for credit cards, 18 percent for store mobile apps and 17 percent for mobile wallets. The upshot: A cashless society is a myth today and for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, a new payments era has arrived. The Cardtronics research finds that 91 percent of 1,006 consumers surveyed like the ability to pay with a variety of methods. Eighty-five percent use at least two different types of payments each month and 55 percent use at least three.

However, the diversification of payment preferences doesn’t stop at just cash vs. credit vs. mobile.  The Cardtronics data also provides an interesting view of payment behaviors for different demographic groups.  Here are several: One Size Does Not Fit All

Millennials: Except for writing checks, the typical millennial is using every payment method more frequently than he or she did a year ago. Fifty-five percent have used a mobile wallet, more than three fourths still use cash regularly, but 70 percent don’t like using a credit card because they “don’t like being in debt.” They’re more likely than other demographic groups to use cash or mobile wallet at mass merchandisers; to save cash for a future purchase; and to consider a payment method’s security before buying something.

Gen Xers: They use credit cards and debit cards more frequently than do the other generations. They also are most apt to withdraw money weekly from an ATM.

Boomers: They’re more reluctant to try digital payments, with 42 percent saying they have no interest in them and 34 percent seeing no reason to adopt them. Fifty-two percent prefer using debt or credit for purchases and 36 percent favor cash.

Males vs. Females: Males use cash, credit, and their mobile wallet on a daily basis more frequently than women and they’re more prone to withdraw money weekly from an ATM. However, women’s use of debit cards and mobile wallets increased over that of a year ago; they spend more of the money they withdraw from an ATM than men; and they most often prefer cash as a gift from a friend. 

Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural Residents: Urban residents daily use cash, credit and debit cards more frequently and they carry more cash, while suburbanites daily use a store-specific card and mobile wallet more frequently. Rural residents withdraw the most money from an ATM and spend more of it immediately. They also most like getting paid back in cash by a friend and receiving a cash gift.  

When it comes to payment options, it’s obvious that consumers demand options, and there isn’t one clear winner in the payment space. While Gen Xers may use mobile wallets, Boomers are reluctant to try the innovation. And millennials, in particular, prefer a solid mix of all options. One size never fits all when it comes to clothing.  Evidently the same applies to payments. 

Tom Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer

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