Debit card usage up 32% over past decade, PULSE finds

August 7, 2015

HOUSTON (8/7/15)--Consumers are reaching into their wallets for their debit cards at a much higher clip than a decade ago, a recent study by PULSE has found.

Broken down, the 2015 Debit Issuer Study revealed that the typical debit card is used 21 times per month for point-of-sale purchases, a 32% jump over the past 10 years.

In fact, the form of payment has become so popular that debit transactions have nearly doubled that of credit cards, the next most-common form of non-cash payment.

"The past decade saw a major shift in consumer preference to paying with debit cards, which accelerated after the 2008-2009 recession," said Steve Sievert, PULSE executive vice president of marketing and communications. "We believe there is still opportunity for debit growth, considering that consumer use of debit for smaller purchases is rising, and the average active debit card is used about five times per week."

The study also found that, between 2005 and 2014:

  • Consumers increased annual spending on their debit cards to $9,291, up from $7,807;
  • The average purchase fell to $37 from $40; and
  • Average monthly ATM withdrawals dropped to 2 from 3.4.

“The use of debit for small-ticket purchases is particularly noteworthy, where one-third of all debit transactions are for less than $10--purchases that historically would have been made with cash or not at all,” said Tony Hayes, partner at Oliver Wyman, which co-led the study.

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