2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

General Information

2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice
Laura Kim, Raynil Kumar and Shaun O’Brien
Publication Type
Working paper
Federal Reserve System
The Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (Diary) is an ongoing annual research effort conducted by the Federal Reserve to better understand payment habits of the U.S. population. This paper highlights findings from the sixth Diary study in 2019, and the fourth conducted annually in the month of October since 2016.1 A demographically-representative sample of 3,016 individuals from the Understanding America survey panel were asked to participate. Each individual was instructed to report all of their payments and transactions over an assigned, consecutive three-day period. The high-level findings are:

• Consumers used cash for 26 percent of all payments, consistent with the finding from 2018
• Cash is used heavily for small-value payments, about 47 percent of payments under $10
• Debit cards were the most used instrument, accounting for 30 percent of payments
• The share of cash use across all age cohorts was generally unchanged
• 87 percent of non-bill payments were made in-person, and cash was used for 35 percent of those payments