60% of US Consumers Use Cards vs. Cash – Here’s Why

When Frank McNamara first invented the modern credit card, he clearly had a vision. But it’s unlikely they expected it to replace cash. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s certainly getting closer, now that 3 out of 5 consumers would rather swipe. Every user has their reasons for preferring credit cards, and a lot of those motivations overlap, so let’s explore some of them.

An often-overlooked reason is speed. Swiping a card barely takes a second. New generation chip-and-pin EMV cards take a fraction longer than regular magnetic-stripe cards, but they’re still far faster than cash. This is, in part, because you don’t have to count your money, watch your cashier count your money, wait as they issue your change, then re-count the change to verify it.

Safety and speed

Enhanced service time means lines are shorter and move more quickly, so customers will opt for credit cards when they’re in a rush. Even when they don’t have anywhere to go, they’d still rather finish their purchase and move on to something else. In this sense, credit cards are convenient. They save time, but they also dodge the hassle of carrying wads of cash.

This means that customers will feel less self-conscious when they’re planning on a large purchase. They’re not worried about being pick-pocketed or mugged, so they’re more relaxed about heading to your store.

Plus, they can earn loyalty points. Consumers enjoy the gamification, earning points by swiping their cards, and exchanging those points for free stuff and discounts. It’s more fun swiping when you know there’s added value involved, so these rewards have been a big driver or credit card use.

Instant gratification

In the past, if we wanted something fancy, we might have to get an extra job and save up for weeks, maybe months. But these days, we get credit cards in the mail and we can start spending immediately. While this approach can seem risky, it does create habits, and it’s probably how we all got our first credit cards. And once you’ve gotten used to swiping, it’s all you do.

With a credit card, you don’t have to wait until you have enough cash. As long as your credit limit fits your purchase, you can buy whatever you want whenever you want. Of course the more you use your card, the higher your limit, and the better your credit score, so it can become an endless cycle of credit card spending. It only works if you repay your card debt on time though. Luckily, you can arrange to pay a comfortable amount every month, so it doesn’t sting.

For more information on why 60% of US consumers use cards vs. cash, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.

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