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Cardtronics Survey: In a Digital-Trending World, Cash is Resilient and Often Preferred

Rugged individualism is deeply rooted in the United States. Americans generally do not like being told what to do or how to think, and based on the results of the 2017 Health of Cash Study, they will push back against any challenge to their freedom of choice when they pay.

Cardtronics partnered with Edelman Intelligence, an independent market research company, to conduct the 2017 Health of Cash Study, based on a nationally representative survey of 1,000 U.S. adults. Now in its third year, the Health of Cash research program is an annual examination of consumer payments behavior in America.

Consumer payment behavior is dynamic as mobile wallets, along with store-specific and person-to-person (P2P) payment apps, make the digital payment choice increasingly accessible. Indeed, many people are adding digital payment options to their spending patterns, and at the same time there is equally compelling evidence that cash has formed a durable and enduring bond with consumers.

Cash's Enduring Role GraphCash's Enduring Role

The 2017 Health of Cash Study examines consumer behavior in a wide range of specific payment scenarios, and also tracks macro trends such as which payment methods people have used in the past six months.  The data, which is illustrated here, clearly indicates that cash usage is deeply woven into the fabric of Americans' payment behavior.

Cash, which notably remains the most commonly used form of payment, continues to play a meaningful and often leading role among the full range of cash, card and digital payment options.

Choice – Why Cash Endures

Consumers like choiceThe notion that consumers want to be limited to cashless payments, or that digital payments are overtaking cash, is not consistent with consumer behavior.

Health of Cash survey results are clear: American consumers like having multiple ways to pay and the freedom to choose between cash and cashless.

In fact, nine of 10 Americans (89 percent) surveyed favor multiple payment options, and 72 percent said they use cash regularly despite the availability of other options.

Plus, in a finding that retailers should consider before forcing customers to pay a certain way, 61 percent said they would be upset if an establishment refused to accept cash, and that’s still true even if they personally prefer cards or digital pay. Ready for a surprise? That percentage is even higher, 68 percent, among millennials.

Convenient, Easy to Use and Safe, Private – Why Cash Endures

Convenient and easy to use – consumers want their preferred payment method to deliver both attributes, and they feel most payment methods do so to varying degrees. However, when asked to choose which payment method best delivers the benefits of convenience and ease of use, consumers’ top choice was cash (38 percent and 44 percent respectively).

And when the choice of ‘how to pay’ hinges on safety, security and privacy, the Health of Cash Study finds cash clearly separates from the payments pack – most notably on privacy (e.g. doesn’t track purchase behavior) – a benefit that cashless cannot deliver. With a 60 percent tally, a clear majority of consumers selected cash as the top choice for privacy in payments.

Now Available for Free Download – The 2017 Health of Cash Study

The 2017 Health of Cash Study underscores the falsity of the notion of a cashless America, and also makes plain that consumers simply don’t want a cashless society.

Download the 2017 Health of Cash Study today to learn more about:

  • Where digital advances.
  • Where cash holds the line.
  • How P2P payments are evolving & staying the same.
  • Millennials’ complicated relationship with digital & cash.
  • How consumers rate all payment methods across convenience, ease, safety, privacy & more.
  • Deeper dive into why cash has an enduring role in the digital age.

Get access to the 2017 Health of Cash Study at:


Tom Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer

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