2024 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

In May, Federal Reserve Financial Services’ FedCash® Services released the annual Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (PDF) report from its ongoing research into the payment habits of the U.S. population. The 2024 findings revealed consumers made more payments in 2023 than in previous years, continuing the trend of rising payment transactions since 2020.

Amid increased payments, cash’s share decreased in favor of credit and debit cards, but overall cash use has remained stable as consumers continued to hold more cash than they did before 2020 as both a store-of-value (up 53%) and in their pockets, purses or wallets as a backup payment instrument (up 23%).

The findings also show a growing generational divide among those using cash versus electronic payments. Consumers younger than age 55 used cash for just 12% of payments in 2023, compared to 22% for those age 55 and older. Notably, for the first time in Diary history, cash was not the most-used instrument for smaller-value payments of $25 or less.

Other key findings from this nationally representative survey include:

  • Consumers made an average of 46 monthly payments in 2023, an increase of seven payments compared to 2022.
  • Increased credit and debit card use between 2022 and 2023 resulted in more than 60% of payments per month being made with credit (32%) and debit cards (30%).
  • Consumers made an average of seven cash payments in 2023, a number that has remained stable since 2021.
    Figure 1: Average number of total payments
  • The share of payments made with cash decreased to 16%, though it remained the third most-used payment instrument behind credit and debit cards.
  • Cash use was driven by in-person shopping, as well as by the payment behavior of consumers in low-income households and individuals age 55 and older.
  • Individuals age 55 and older relied on cash for 22% of their payments, a rate approximately 1.5 times higher than that of their younger counterparts under 55.
  • Store-of-value cash holdings decreased to $369 in 2023 compared to $418 in 2022, though overall store-of-value holdings remains notably higher than pre-pandemic levels.
    Figure 14: Average store of value holdings
  • Consumers used mobile apps for 50% of person-to-person payments, continuing a widespread consumer transition away from paper-based payments.
  • More than 90% of consumers intend to use cash as either a means of payment or store of value in the future.

Since 2016, the Federal Reserve has conducted this annual consumer survey to better understand the payment habits of U.S. consumers. Participants report all payments over a three-day period, the value of their cash holdings, payment instruments used and their preferences for various types of payments.

About the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

The Federal Reserve conducts the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice survey every year to understand U.S. consumers’ payment behavior, preferences and how consumer payments change from one year to the next. The latest survey was conducted in October 2023. Understanding the evolving role of cash in the U.S. economy through the Diary studies helps ensure FedCash Services is fulfilling its mission of meeting cash demand in times of both normalcy and stress, maintaining the public’s confidence in U.S. currency, and providing ready access to cash.

Federal Reserve Financial Services uses data from the Diary to understand consumer cash use and anticipate its ongoing role in the payments landscape. By tracking consumer payment transactions and preferences annually during the month of October, Federal Reserve Financial Services compares cash with other payment instruments, such as credit and debit cards, checks and electronic payment options. Diary participants also report the amount of cash on hand after each survey day, cash stored elsewhere and cash deposits or withdrawals. Analysis of the Diary data includes the impact of age and income on an individual’s payment behavior and preferences, as well as cash stocks and flows at an individual level.

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