Nov 01, 2021

Question of the Day: Rank order these payment types from most to least popular with consumers: cash, debit card and credit card.

Answer: Debit card, credit card, cash

From Federal Reserve of Atlanta:

Note: Results from 2009 through 2014 are based on the American Life Panel; 2015 through 2020 results are based on the Understanding
America Study panel. OBBP stands for online banking bill payment; BANP stands for bank account number payment.
Source: 2009–20 Surveys of Consumer Payment Choice


  • How do you typically pay for things today? Why do you use that method?
  • Summarize changes that have occurred between 2015 and 2020 in how people pay for things. 
  • What is one major difference between debit cards and credit cards?
  • What changes do you anticipate in the next five years based on the trends in the chart? 

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

Behind the numbers (Atlanta FED: The 2020 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice: Summary Results)

Over the 13 years of the survey, debit, credit, and cash have consistently been the most popular ways to pay (Figure 7). These “big three” payment instruments accounted for 81 percent of consumer payments in 2015, and this relationship remains true for 2020, with the three payment instruments comprising 81 percent of all consumer payments. In every year since 2010, debit card payments have consistently been the largest share of consumer payments. The share of cash payments has declined gradually since the financial crisis. In 2019, for the first time, the share of credit card payments exceeded the share of cash payments. In 2020, the share of credit card payments continued to grow. The increase in the share of credit card payments from 2019 is statistically significant (Figure 8).


500+ more Questions of the Day to get your class off to a great start!


Check out this NGPF activity, PLAY: Payment Decisions

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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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