Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Older People Carry the Most Cash

For the first time, cash has fallen to second place as a payment instrument. According to the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, cash was used to pay for 26 percent of transactions in an average month of 2018, down from 31 percent in 2016. Debit cards were in first place in 2018, used to pay for 28 percent of transactions.

The declining use of cash is not much of a surprise, since younger adults are spurning cash in favor of other types of payments. The Diary results confirm this notion. The 25-to-34 age group used cash to pay for only 18 percent of purchases in an average month of 2018. The figure was an almost identical 19 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds. Cash is much more commonly used as a payment instrument by the youngest and oldest adults. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, 34 percent of payments are made with cash. Among people aged 65 or older, the figure is 33 percent.

Americans carried $58 in cash on their person on an average day of 2018. The amount varies by age, however, with people aged 65 or older carrying the most cash.

Amount of cash carried on an average day, 2018
Under age 25: $20
Aged 25 to 34: $37
Aged 35 to 44: $36
Aged 45 to 54: $59
Aged 55 to 64: $68
Aged 65-plus: $104

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 2019 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

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