Consumers Typically Use Debit Cards to Pay In-Store, Credit Online

While consumers’ shopping and payment preferences are evolving in tandem with the technological and socio-economic realities of their lives today, debit cards and credit cards remain the payment methods they most commonly use.

Debit trumps credit usage when consumers shop in physical stores, while credit cards are the most popular payment method for online purchases, according to the Digital Economy Payments Report, for which PYMNTS surveyed 3,304 U.S. consumers.

Get the report: Digital Economy Payments Report: November 2021 US, How Consumers Pay in the Digital World

More than 38% of the consumers use debit cards to pay for their purchases in physical stores, while nearly 33% use credit cards. The opposite is true when making online purchases, with 37% of consumers using credit cards to pay and 33% using debit cards.

Overall, 37% of consumers used debit cards to pay for purchases, while 32% said they used credit cards. Cash, used by 13% of consumers, is the third most popular payment method.

When it comes to paying for their groceries, consumers typically use debit cards regardless of whether they are buying them in a physical store or online. On the other hand, consumers vastly prefer paying with credit cards when making retail purchases. For travel-related purchases, consumers by and large use credit cards.

Although consumers are becoming more tech-savvy, relatively few are using mobile wallets to pay for their travel-related purchases. Just 12% of travel-related transactions are paid for via PayPal, while just 5% use Apple Pay.

This could be because consumers are accustomed to using credit cards for their travel expenses or because many credit cards offer travel protection. Travel purchases also tend to be more expensive, and credit cards allow consumers to make big-ticket transactions now and worry about payments later.