In the rapidly evolving financial and business landscape, understanding consumer behavior toward payment methods is crucial for retail store owners. The shift from cash to digital payments in recent years has been a topic of much discussion, and understanding just how quickly this shift is taking place can help both new and experienced business owners make informed decisions about the types of payment options to offer

This raises the question: What payment methods are American consumers choosing for their purchases? Are they more inclined to pay with cash or plastic? 

In this article, we’ll dive into the latest cash vs. credit card spending statistics in the United States to shed light on emerging trends.

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Cash vs. credit card spending data: the rise of credit cards

Annual US Cash/Check & Credit Card Transaction Value



Credit card


$1.769 trillion

$2.893 trillion


$1.869 trillion

$3.370 trillion


$1.873 trillion

$3.466 trillion


$1.879 trillion

$3.625 trillion


$1.836 trillion

$3.843 trillion

Recent US credit card spending data paints a clear picture: credit cards are increasingly becoming one of the top US payment methods. In 2021, the total value of credit card transactions in the US was a staggering $2.89 trillion. This figure has seen a consistent uptick since, and projections indicate a rise to $3.84 trillion by 2025. 

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This growth in credit card usage underscores a significant shift in consumer behavior, preferring the convenience and benefits that credit cards offer over traditional cash transactions.

Credit card spend rises as cash transactions decline

In contrast, cash and check transactions have not witnessed the same growth. In 2021, the total transaction value amounted to $1.77 trillion. While there were slight increases in the subsequent years to $1.88 trillion in 2024, the forecast for 2025 suggests a dip to $1.84 trillion. 

While credit card transactions are projected to rise at an average of 7.5% per year from 2021 to 2025, cash transactions are expected to grow by just 1% every year over the same period. These cash vs. credit card spending statistics reveal a declining reliance on cash, reflecting a shift toward digitalization in the retail sector.

Drivers of the shift toward credit card spending

Several factors contribute to the rising use of credit cards. Rewards and cash-back incentives are among the most compelling reasons for consumers to opt for credit cards over cash. Plus, the surge in online shopping, evidenced by rising US ecommerce sales and the growing number of online shoppers, and the need for secure transaction methods, have bolstered credit card usage. 

For business owners, understanding these credit card spend trends is crucial. The increasing preference for credit cards signals the need for merchants to adopt credit card processing capabilities, if they haven’t already done so. Additionally, the shift toward digital payments could push businesses to explore more innovative payment solutions, such as contactless payments or mobile wallets (currently among the most popular online payment methods) to enhance customer experience. 

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