Jan 02, 2018

Credit Card, Debit Card or Checks: What Is Most Prevalent Form of Payment By Americans?

Answer (from Federal Reserve 2017 Payments Study):  Debit cards

Number of transactions in 2016:

  1. Debit cards: 73.8 billion
  2. Credit cards: 37.3 billion
  3. Checks: 17.2 billion

Interestingly the fastest growing area in terms of transactions was with credit cards:

Credit card payments registered the highest growth rate by number (10.2 percent) among the core payment types from 2015 to 2016, up from a growth rate of 8.1 percent from 2012 to 2015. Debit card payments registered the second highest growth rate by number (6.0 percent) from 2015 to 2016, but this rate was down from a growth rate of 7.2 percent from 2012 to 2015.


  • How do you typically pay for things today? Why do you use that method?
  • Do you think this will change as you get older? Why? 
  • What is one major difference between debit cards and credit cards?

Here's the ready-to-use slides for this Question of the Day for your classroom.


Check out this NGPF Project: Payment Decisions in which your students decide what form of payment is appropriate based on a specific type of purchase. 





About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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