Retail Shoppers Pay by Debit Card in Stores but by Credit Online

When shopping in stores, retail customers prefer to pay with debit, but eCommerce is a different story.

By the Numbers

Payment methods used in most recent retail purchase

According to an October survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, 44% of respondents had paid for their most recent retail purchase in stores via debit card, while 28% paid with a credit card. Conversely, 41% of consumers surveyed had paid for their most recent online retail purchase using a credit card — a greater share than said the same of any other payment method — while 36% used a debit card.

A Deeper Dive

Both credit and debit use are on the rise, per Visa’s latest earnings report. The company detailed 8% growth in credit card volumes and 9% growth in debit, as measured in constant dollars.

Payments are changing at an incredibly fast pace, and the experience for the end customer has become paramount,” Nuvei Chief Revenue Officer Laura Miller told PYMNTS in an August interview.

For online purchases, credit cards may be preferred because they often offer better fraud protection compared to debit cards. Many credit card issuers have sophisticated fraud detection systems and provide zero-liability policies for unauthorized transactions. Additionally, credit card users can dispute charges and initiate chargebacks for fraudulent or undelivered goods, providing an added layer of consumer protection.

Plus, credit cards often come with rewards programs, cash back incentives, or other perks such as travel insurance, extended warranties and purchase protections, making them more appealing for online purchases where larger transactions are common. Plus, credit cards allow consumers to defer payment until the end of the billing cycle, providing a temporary buffer for cash flow management.

However, these preferences can vary depending on individual financial habits, risk tolerance and specific circumstances. Some consumers may prefer credit cards for all purchases to maximize rewards and benefits, while others may prefer debit cards or alternative payment methods for greater control over spending and budgeting.

For all PYMNTS retail coverage, subscribe to the daily Retail Newsletter.