Debit Cards Still Dominant in Gen Z


There’s no doubt the pandemic changed the way consumers pay for goods and services, and this shift has been evident across all generations—from Gen Z to the silent generation. We explore how payment practices have changed in a recent report, “2022 North American PaymentsInsights, U.S.: Significant Consumer Trends in Payments.”

While older consumers had to change their behavior and adopt certain digital payment methods that many haven’t particularly used pre-pandemic, this shift to digital wasn’t a leap for younger generations. That said, this group and their use of payment methods does vary compared to their older cohorts. For example, Gen Z is more likely to use a debit card than a credit card.

Gen Z is still starting out in their careers,” said Ben Danner, Senior Research Analyst at Mercator Advisory Group and author of the report. “You have people that are still in school or just starting college. A lot of them stick to a debit card, partly because it makes it easier to track how much money they have in their account.”

It’s likely Gen Z is looking to avoid something older generations have had to deal with over the years, particularly with the increased use of credit cards: debt.

“Looking generationally based on the data we have right now, credit card use trends [upwards] with age,” said Danner. “One of the primary reasons for not using a credit card is to stay clear of debt and to use it for personal finance management.”

“It may be because of the personal financial management aspect that younger generations prefer debit cards.” He added.

Credit cards have other rewards that gain increasing importance as consumers get older. Aside from rewards, credit card histories are important for building up a good credit score, which is necessary when looking to purchase a house with a low-interest rate loan. It’s possible that as alternative banking products, like peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and buy now, pay later (BNPL) gain steam, this could reduce the need to build up a credit history with a credit card.

Learn more about the key payment trends that occurred in 2022 and how they will affect consumer behavior in 2023 here.


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