Sep 29, 2019

QoD: Rank order these payment types from most to least used by adults: Cash, Credit Card, Debit Card

Thanks to Julius Prezelski for pitching this idea and pointing out a new research study from the Federal Reserve. 


  • Debit cards 28%
  • Cash 26%
  • Credit cards 23%


  • Does this match your experience?
  • What purchases are you most likely to use cash? use debit cards?
  • Do you think these answers vary based on your age? If you polled your classmates, what do you think the answer would be? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (Federal Reserve 2019 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice):

The 2019 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (Diary) highlights findings from the fifth Diary study conducted by the Federal Reserve. A demographically-representative sample of 2,873 individuals participated in the study and reported all of their payments and transactions over three consecutive days, staggered throughout October 2018.1 The high-level findings are:

  • Consumers used cash in 26 percent of transactions, down from 30 percent in 2017
  • Debit cards were the most used instrument, accounting for 28 percent of payments
  • Credit cards accounted for 23 percent of payments, a 2 percentage point increase from 2017
  • Cash was used heavily for small-value payments, representing 49 percent of payments under $10
  • The share of cash use among individuals under 25 years old is the highest of any age group
  • In-person payments accounted for 73 percent of all transactions. Participants used cash for 35 percent of in-person payments


Make decisions on how you might pay for various purchases with this NGPF Project: Payment Decisions 

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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