Published Study: Two-Thirds of Holiday Shoppers Using Cash This Season

Half of Americans believe concerns over credit card fraud or security breaches outweigh the rewards they could receive by using a credit card for holiday shopping.

The following information provides insights into Americans’ attitudes and opinions about credit card breaches and holiday spending.

Key Findings

Two-in-five Americans who have credit cards have had them compromised in at some point; one-in-five have had this happen in a store, one-in-six had this happen online.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans whose credit cards have been compromised say they use them less online because of that; One-in-ten say use credit cards less in-store as a result.

Nearly two-thirds of holiday shoppers will be using/have used cash for holiday spending, however nearly as many will/have used credit cards (six-in-ten holiday shoppers). Half will/have used debit cards and over one-third will/have used online payments for holiday spending.

Half of the holiday shoppers who have/plan to use credit cards confess to being fearful about being affected by credit card security breaches when trying to deck their halls this season.

Over two-thirds of holiday shoppers who have credit cards say something would stand in the way of their using credit cards for shopping this holiday season; a preference for paying with cash or a debit card is most popular (nearly two-thirds say this) however right behind is the risk of identity theft due to a credit card breach, with nearly three-in-ten American credit card holders expressing this. Risking going into do debt and being in too much debt already (either credit card or other types of debt) round out the reasons holiday shoppers who have credit cards might not pull out that plastic this holiday season.

Good news for credit card companies/banks, as a majority of American credit card owners have confidence in these financial institutions when it comes to protecting them from a security breach. A majority of Americans also agree that a security breach could affect their credit score. Seven-in-ten Americans blame credit card breaches on retail chains, while nearly six-in-ten place the fault with credit card companies. Half of Americans feel that concerns over credit card fraud/security breaches outweigh the rewards they could receive by using a credit card for holiday shopping.

Detailed Findings

1. Has your credit card ever been compromised in any of the following ways? 

  • 41% of Americans who have a credit card say their card(s) have been compromised in some way.
  • 21% have had a credit card breach happen in a store (e.g., Home Depot).
  • 16% say their credit card was breached online (e.g., Amazon.com)
  • 15% have had a credit card breach occur elsewhere
  • 59% of Americans who have credit card have never been affected by a credit card security breach.

Age differences

  • Younger adults age 18-34 are more likely than those age 45+ to have experienced a credit card breach in a store (26% vs. 18%, respectively).

  • Those age 18-44 are nearly twice as likely as those age 55+ to have had this happen to them online (21% vs. 11%, respectively).

  • American credit card holders age 35+ (17%) are more likely than their younger counterparts age 18-34 (9%) to say have experienced a credit card breach somewhere else.

Gender differences

  • Women are more likely than men to have experienced a credit card breach (45% vs. 38%, respectively).
  • Men are more likely than women to have never had a credit card breach (62% vs. 55%, respectively).

2. How has being affected by a credit card security breach impacted your use of credit cards when shopping online or in-store? 

  • 23% of Americans whose credit card has been compromised say they use credit cards less online.
  • 11% use credit cards somewhat less often online.
  • 12% say they use credit cards much less often online.
  • 10% of Americans who’ve experienced a credit card breach use them less in-store.
  • 6% use credit cards somewhat less often in –store.
  • 4% say they use credit cards much less often in-store.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Americans whose credit card has been compromised indicate that that experience has not changed how often they use credit cards online or in-store.

Age differences

  • Those age 18-34 (38%) are more likely than those age 35-64 (21%) to be using credit cards less often online. Both are more likely than those age 65+ (8%) to indicate this.
  • In fact, those age 18-34 are over twice as likely as those age 65+ to say they use credit cards much less often online as a result of their credit card breach (19% vs. 6%, respectively).
  • Those age 45+ are more likely than those age 18-34 to say their credit card breach experience has not changed how often they use credit cards online or in-store (75% vs. 53%, respectively).

Gender differences

  • Men are more likely than women to use their credit cards less often online as a result of a credit card breach (28% vs. 18%, respectively).

  • In fact, men age 18-34 are far more likely than women age 18-34 to say this (55% vs. 22%, respectively).
  • Men are twice as likely as women to use their credit cards much less often online as a result of a credit card breach (16% vs. 8%, respectively).

  • In fact, men age 18-34 are far more likely than women age 18-34 to say this (34% vs. 4%, respectively).
  • Women age 18-34 are twice as likely as men age 18-34 to say their credit card breach experience has had no effect on how often they use their credit cards online or in-store (71% vs. 34%, respectively).

3. Which of the following forms of payment, if any, have you used/do you plan to use for shopping this holiday season? By holiday shopping, we mean purchasing gifts, decorations, etc. for December holidays such as Christmas or Hanukah, or New Year’s. Please select all that apply. 

  • 65% of holiday shoppers will be paying/have paid cash for their holiday purchases this season, while 61% will be using credit cards to deck the halls.

  • 51% of holiday shoppers will be using/have used debit cards, while 36% will be using online payment sites (e.g., PayPal, Amazon Payments).

  • 5% will be using/have used some other form of payment this holiday season.

 

Age differences

  • Those age 18-34 (68%) and those age 45-64 (70%) are both more likely than those age 35-44 (55%) and those age 65+ (58%) to be using/have used cash this holiday season.

  • Older Americans age 65+ are most likely to be using/have used credit cards to make their holiday purchases this year than those age 18-64 (79% vs. 58%, respectively)

  • Those age 18-64 more likely than those age 65+ to be using/have used debit cards this holiday season (55% vs. 33%, respectively).

  • Younger adults age 18-44 are more likely than those age 45+ to say they’ll use/they’ve used online payment sites for their holiday purchases this year (43% vs. 30%, respectively).

Gender differences

  • Men are more likely than women to be using/have used credit cards for their holiday shopping this year (68% vs. 55%, respectively).

  • Though there are no overall gender differences, women age 18-34 (66%) are more likely than men age 18-34 (53%) to be using/have used debit cards for their holiday purchases this season.

  • Though there are no overall gender differences, men age 65+ are more likely than women age 65+ to be using/have used online payments for their holiday purchases this season (34% vs. 21%, respectively).

4. How fearful are you about being affected by credit card security breaches when holiday shopping this season? 

Half of Americans (51%) who plan to/have used credit cards for holiday shopping this year are very/somewhat fearful of being affected by credit card/security breaches.

7% of those who will use/have used credit cards for holiday shopping are very fearful of this.

43% indicate they are somewhat fearful.

49% of Americans who plan to/have used credit cards for holiday shopping this year are not at all/not very fearful of being affected by credit card/security breaches.

35% of those who will use/have used credit cards for holiday shopping are not very fearful of this.

14% indicate they are not at all fearful.

Age differences

  • Those age 35-44 (58%) and those age 55-64 (55%) are more likely than those age 18-34 (44%) to be very/somewhat fearful.
  • Those age 35-54 are nearly three times as likely to be very fearful as those age 55-64 (11% vs. 4%, respectively).
  • Those age 18-34 (20%) are more likely than those age 35-64 (12%) to be not at all fearful.

Gender differences                                                      

  • Men are more likely than women to be not at all fearful (17% vs. 11%, respectively).

5. Which of the following reasons, if any, would prevent you from using a credit card for shopping this holiday season? 

68% of holiday shoppers who have a credit card admit there are some things that would prevent them from using a credit card for shopping this holiday season.

  • 32% just prefer to pay in cash or use a debit card
  • 29% say the risk of identity theft due to a credit card breach would prevent them from using a credit card this holiday season
  • 22% don’t want to risk going into debt
  • 17% are already in too much debt
  • 12% are already indebted in other ways (e.g., car loans, mortgage, student loan debt)
  • 4% say there’s some other reason that would prevent them from using a credit card this holiday season

32% of holiday shoppers say nothing would prevent them from using a credit card for holiday shopping this year. 

Age differences

  • Those age 18-64 are more likely than those age 65+ to say there’s something that would prevent them from using a credit card during the holiday shopping season (72% vs. 50%, respectively).
  • Those age 18-64 (35%) are twice as likely as those age 65+ (17%) to prefer to pay in cash or use a debit card.
  • Those age 18-64 are more than twice as likely as those age 65+ to not want to risk going into debt, and that would prevent them from using a credit card during the holiday shopping season (24% vs. 11%, respectively).
  • Those age 18-64 (19%) are twice as likely as those age 65+ (8%) to already be in too much credit card debt.
  • Those age 18-34 are more likely than older adults age 45+ to cite already being indebted in other ways as the reason to not use credit cards this holiday season (18% vs. 9%, respectively).
  • Those age 65+ are more likely than those age 18-35 to confirm that nothing would prevent them from using a credit card for the holidays (50% vs. 28%, respectively).

Gender differences

  • Though there are no overall gender differences, men age 45-54 are twice as likely as women age 45-54 to say nothing would prevent their credit card usage for holiday purchases (38% vs. 19%, respectively).

6. How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following the following statements? 

Concerns over credit card fraud or security breaches outweigh the rewards I could receive by using a credit card for holiday shopping (e.g., air miles, points). 

Half (50%) of Americans say concerns over credit card fraud or security breaches outweigh the rewards they could receive by using a credit card for holiday shopping.

  • Younger adults ages 18-64 (52%) are significantly more likely to say they agree with this than those ages 65+ (40%).
  • Men age 18-34 are more likely than women age 18-34 to say they agree with this (58% vs. 47%, respectively).

I have confidence in my credit card company/bank when it comes to protecting me from a security breach. (Base: U.S. Adults Who Have A Credit Card, n=1,700)

Nearly four-in-five (79%) of American credit card owners have confidence in their credit card company/bank to protect them from a security breach.

  • Younger adults ages 18-34 (81%) and those age 65+ (83%) are significantly more likely to say they agree with this than those ages 35-44 (72%).
  • Men age 18-34 are significantly more likely than women age 18-34 to say they strongly agree with this (31% vs. 19%, respectively).

Credit card breaches are the fault of credit card companies.

59% of Americans say credit card breaches are the fault of credit card companies.

  • Those age 35-44 (62%) and those age 55-64 (63%) are more likely than those ages 65+ (54%) to agree with this.
  • Men are more likely than women to strongly agree with this statement (19% vs. 12%, respectively).

Credit card breaches are the fault of retail chains. 

70% of Americans say credit card breaches are the fault of retail chains.

  • Men are more likely than women to blame retain chains for credit card breaches (74% vs. 66%, respectively).
  • In fact, men age 45-54 are significantly more likely than women age 45-54 to blame retail chains for credit card breaches (76% vs. 62%, respectively).
  • Those age 35-64 (21%) are more likely than those ages 65+ (13%) to strongly agree with this.
  • Men are more likely than women to strongly agree with this statement (22% vs. 14%, respectively).
  • Men age 18-34 are almost twice as likely as women age 18-34 to strongly agree with this (20% vs. 11%, respectively).

 

A security breach could affect my credit score. 

79% of Americans say a credit card breach could affect their credit score.

  • Those age 18-64 (81%) are more likely than those ages 65+ (67%) to believe this.

  • Those age 35-64 are more likely than those age 18-34 to strongly agree with this statement (39% vs. 29%, respectively).

 

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States from October 29-31, 2014 among 2,022 adults ages 18 and older by Harris Poll on behalf of Lexington Law/Progrexion via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About The Harris Poll

Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *