2020 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Claire Greene and Joanna Stavins
May 2021

This paper describes key results from the 2020 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), the seventh in a series of diary surveys that measure payment behavior through the daily recording of consumer spending and payments in the United States.

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JEL classifications: D12, D14, E42

cash, checks, checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, prepaid cards, electronic payments, payment preferences, Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

https://doi.org/10.29338/rdr2021-02

  • Interactive Charts



  • Abstract

    In October 2020, U.S. consumers made most of their payments with debit cards, credit card, and cash, which together accounted for three-quarters of all payments by number and one-third by value. In the pandemic year 2020, consumers’ mix of payments changed, with the decline in the total number of payments from 39 in 2019 to 34 in 2020 taking place in purchases, which declined from 31 in 2019 to 26 in 2020. The number of bills paid was stable, at eight. Online or mobile purchases of goods and services increased from 9 percent of all purchases in 2019 to 14 percent in 2020. Of purchases not made in person, six in 10 were accomplished via a mobile phone. U.S. consumers generally held more cash in 2020 compared to 2019. The average holding on person was $76.

    This paper describes key results from the 2020 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), the seventh in a series of diary surveys that measure payment behavior through the daily recording of the spending of U.S. consumers. The DCPC is the only diary survey of U.S. consumer payments with data and results that are available to the public free of charge.

  • Key Findings

    • In October 2019, almost half of all payments (43 percent) U.S. consumers made were for groceries, gas, and shopping, both in person and online.
    • By value, 40 percent of payments were for financial services, including mortgages, credit card bills, other loan payments, insurance, investments, and so on.
    • The most commonly used payment instruments were debit cards, cash, and credit cards, which jointly accounted for 80 percent of all payments by number and 37 percent by value.
    • By value, about 40 percent of consumer payments were made via ACH payments, executed either through online banking bill payment or by providing a bank routing number and account number to the payee.
    • The average amount of cash a U.S. consumer held in his or her pocket, purse, or wallet was $60 (the median was $24).
  • Data Sets

    Results

    Public Use Data Sets

    Day-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one diary-day per respondent.

    Individual-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one respondent's observations.

    Transaction-level data sets:
    Each row of these data sets contains one transaction for its unit of observation.

    Additional Resources

    Outside Resources

    Send data questions to Senior Survey Specialist Kevin Foster.