Payment Methods

Fed Study: US Consumers Make Average Monthly Payments Of $3,999

Federal Reserve

In the fifth official study conducted by the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Boston, Richmond and San Francisco, the 2018 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC) detailed the cash and non-cash payment behavior of U.S. adult consumers who are 18 years old and older.

The survey measures payment behavior via the daily recording of the spending of U.S. consumers.
Consumers in the U.S. made an average of 43 payments for October 2018.

“Thus, on average, an adult consumer made 1.4 payments per day,” the study stated.

An average of 14 percent of consumers per day reported making zero payments. U.S. consumers made an average of just under $4,000 — or $3,999 — worth of payments for the month.

The number of consumer payments rose approximately 5 percent by two payments in comparison to October 2017 at 41 payments per consumer per month. However, the study reported that the number still is less than the 46 payments reported in October 2016. Also, the total value of payments rose by $580 from $3,419 in 2017 and is $83 more than 2016’s total value of $3,916.

And consumers in the U.S. made over half of their payments with cards (debit, credit and prepaid) at 54 percent or 23 payments. By comparison, they used paper instruments (cash, checks and money orders) for 32 percent or 14 payments; electronic methods for 11 percent or five payments; and other methods for 4 percent or two payments.

“Compared with 2017, the volume share of cards and electronic instruments increased and the volume shares of paper instruments declined,” the study stated. “All of those changes are statistically significant.”

The DCPC obtains data on consumers’ holdings of cash on their person in a purse, pocket or wallet and that are stored in a home, an office or, say, a car. A U.S. consumer held an average of just under $60 — or $58 — of cash on his or her person each day. That was “statistically unchanged from cash holdings in 2016 and 2017,” according to the study. Approximately half of the cash on a person by value was in the form of $20 bills, while one-quarter was in $100 bills.

Of the average 43 payments per month reported by U.S. consumers, 14 were for everyday purchases like pharmacies, groceries, online shopping and stores; nine were for food away from home with the inclusion of fast food, restaurants and bars; and four were related to financial services firms with the inclusion of IRA, insurance, mutual funds, credit card payments, mortgage payments and other loan payments.’

And three-quarters of U.S. consumers reported making a minimum of one online purchase in the 12 months concluding October 2018.

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