2018 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Claire Greene and Joanna Stavins
December 2019

This report contains key results from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), the fifth in a series of diary surveys that measure payment behavior through the daily recording of U.S. consumers' spending. It includes estimates of the number, value, and average value of payments that all U.S. adult consumers made using the various U.S. payment instruments. It also includes estimates of cash held on person by denomination of currency, and it discusses changes in payment choice and cash holdings from 2017 to 2018.

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JEL classifications: D12, D14, E42

Key words: cash, checks, checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, prepaid cards, electronic payments, payment preferences, Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

  • Interactive Charts



  • Abstract

    This paper describes key results from the 2018 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), the fifth in a series of diary surveys that measure payment behavior through the daily recording of the spending of U.S. consumers. The DCPC is the only diary survey of U.S. consumer payments with data and results that are available to the public without a fee. In October 2018, consumers made more payments with debit cards than with any other payment instrument (28 percent of payments). Cash, in all prior diary years the most-used payment instrument, followed with 26 percent of payments. Together with credit cards (23 percent), these instruments accounted for slightly more than three-quarters of the number of payments. By value, electronic payments accounted for 36 percent of the value of total payments, a statistically significant increase from 2017. The value share of payments made with paper instruments continued its steady decline, from 31 percent in 2015 to 23 percent in 2018. The average value of a cash transaction was $21, compared with $206 for the average noncash transaction (and $92 for all transactions). The average value of consumers' holdings of cash on their persons (in pocket, purse, or wallet) was about $60.

  • Key Findings

    • In October 2018, consumers made more payments with debit cards than with any other payment instrument (28 percent of payments).
    • Debit cards, cash, and credit cards accounted for slightly more than three-quarters of the number of payments.
    • By value, electronic payments accounted for just over one-third of the value of total payments, a statistically significant increase from 2017.
    • The value share of payments made with paper instruments continued its steady decline, from 31 percent in 2015 to 23 percent in 2018.
  • Data Sets

    Results

    Public Use Data Sets

    Day-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one diary-day per respondent.

    Individual-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one respondent's observations.

    Transaction-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one transaction for its unit of observation.

    Additional Resources

    Outside Resources