Personal Finance

Debt Is Driving People to Shop With Cash

Comments 1 Comment

The majority of Americans (56.4%) used cash for some of their holiday shopping last year, according to a survey of consumers conducted by, and about 20% said they would use cash and debit cards more this year than they did in 2012.

People use a variety of payment methods throughout the season for different reasons — respondents were instructed to note all the ways they paid for gifts last year, the most common being credit cards, with 57.8% of shoppers using them. When asked why they prefer cash or debit cards, people who plan to use more cash this year most often said it’s because they’re trying to pay off debt.

The data is based on a sample of 426 U.S. adult consumers conducted Nov. 18 to 19 using SurveyMonkey Audience.

Of the 20.3% who said they would use more cash and debit than they did last year, 10% said they just prefer cash, 10% said they have more income this year and 8% said they have been able to save for gifts this year.

But 29% said debt is driving them toward cash and debit. Debit cards were the most common form of payment among this group in 2012, suggesting this move away from credit has been months in the making (70.6% of these cash enthusiasts said they would use less credit this season). This year, nearly half of these consumers plan to use credit cards for less than 10% of their holiday shopping.

Using cash isn’t an indication of extreme debt or dire economic circumstances: 20% of consumers looking to use more cash said they had unsecured debt between $5,001 and $10,000, but 18.8% said they had less than $500 in unsecured debt. The same amount (18.8%) said they had between $10,001 and $20,000. When asked to describe their financial situations, those looking to use more cash gave answers from “secure” and “fair” to “broke” and “poor.”

Women made up most of the respondents choosing to use more cash this year (62.3%), though debt levels among men and women were fairly similar.  The survey found that men and women generally have different approaches to holiday spending.

Image: Monkey Business

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Gerald Harris

    I am seeing more about more people paying with cash as oppose to using credit. This is becoming more of a common scenerio. No one wants to go into more debt.

Find out where you stand.
Get your FREE personalized credit report card.

Sign Up Now

Stay Connected to Our Experts

Please submit your email address to get credit & money tips & advice
from our team of 50+ experts, delivered weekly to your inbox.