Allpoint Blog

A Force of Habit – Cash Users Still Passionate for the Ol’ Greenback as a Primary Payment Choice

In spite of having access to and using a greater variety of digital payment methods, cash remains at the top of this list for many cash users as they make their payments choice. According to the Cardtronics Cash Survey conducted in late 2015, 55 percent of respondents say their payment habits remain the same despite new technology. And in even higher percentages, cash is the leading form of payment.
In fact, the online survey of 1,015 U.S. adults uncovered a number of findings that prove valuable to retailers and others about how consumers like to pay, what engages them and what it takes to ensure a great customer experience.
For instance, the survey revealed some surprising payment patterns by Millennials – those born between 1980 and the mid-2000s. These patterns are critical because Millennials are now the largest, most diverse generation in the country’s history, and the one that’s been shaped the most by technology. One substantial finding: Nearly half of Millennials (45 percent) report using cash more today than they did a few years ago.
That's just one of the key takeaways gleaned from the survey. Here are other major findings that illuminate the continued greening of America: 

1. Cash is still widely used in many small purchase situations and person-to-person interactions.

Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) use cash for smaller items, while turning to other forms of payments for larger, more expensive items. As for paying someone back, what industry insiders call P2P payments, cash dominates this space with nearly 78 percent saying they use greenbacks. Other situations in which significant percentages of survey respondents say they use cash:
  • Tipping (78 percent)
  • Buying snacks outside the home (67 percent)
  • Convenience store shopping (63 percent)
  • Taxi fare (62 percent)
  • Coffee Shop purchases (57 percent)
  • Grocery store purchases (52 percent)
  • Paying at a pharmacy (45 percent)
Monitoring how customers pay for items can help convenience store operators, for example, deploy targeted promotions and other merchandising offerings, along with product placement optimization.

2. People use cash because it's convenient, quick and easy, and secure.

Two-thirds of those surveyed (66 percent) choose cash precisely because it is easy to use. Nearly half choose cash based on its speed at the checkout, where they seek quick and easy transactions. Keeping their personal information safe is another reason people (42 percent) choose cash.
For 34 percent, they’re thinking about staying on budget and controlling spending when paying with cash. That’s especially true of Millennials, who are significantly more likely than Baby Boomers – 40 percent vs. 30 percent – to choose cash with budgeting on their minds. As for men (29 percent) and women (39 percent), the latter group is more likely to value the budgeting aspects of cash.
How the generations – and the genders – view cash also assists retailers and businesses with their merchandising and marketing strategies. For instance, how women employ cash, including generally withdrawing less per ATM transaction than men, implies they may have a more specific and immediate plan in mind when they withdraw cash from an ATM.

3. When people withdraw ATM cash, they generally take a little or a lot.

When we asked people how much they withdrew the last time they used an ATM, a pattern of playing the ends against the middle emerged:
  • 17 percent withdrew $20
  • 15 percent, $40, $100 or $200 or more
  • 10 percent, $60
  • 6 percent, $120-180
  • 4 percent, $80
Favorite ATM Transactions
Drilling a bit deeper, our survey found some interesting gender and generational differences in answering the withdrawal question. While men tended to withdraw either $100, $200 or more, women were more likely to take out $20 or $40 – amounts that may speak to the budgeting aspect mentioned above. Across the generations, the most likely ATM cash withdrawal amount was as follows: Boomers and Gen Xers - $200 vs. Millennials - $40. Of course, given age and career advancement, this may be a commentary on their account balance as much as anything.
And the age group most likely to spend at least 75 percent of the cash they withdrew that same day? Millennials. With our survey revealing Millennials are increasing their cash usage and likely to spend a good deal of it in short order, the case is made for retailers to use in-store ATMs to pursue that demographic.

Wrapping Up

As technology advances continue – for both ATMs and consumer electronic devices – payment patterns will evolve. But, if this survey is any indication, cash still remains mighty popular and powerful.
Tom Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer
Click here to download an infographic on our Cash Survey

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