The 4 methods of payment in the US include cash, debit, and credit cards, electronic payments, and bank transfers. In this post, we’ll explain what these payment methods are, so you can better understand each one. We’ll also examine which payment methods are the most popular, so you can know exactly what methods your business must accept to succeed. This post is a must-read if you’re a merchant currently selling goods or services to US consumers or planning to do so in the future!
What are the 4 methods of payment mostly preferred in the US?
The United States has a diverse population of consumers, which is reflected in the different payment methods used by consumers. The payment methods US consumers prefer can typically be categorized into four groups.
Cash or money refers to physical currency, notes, and coins that can buy goods and services. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic increasing the adoption of contactless and electronic payment methods like credit and debit cards and e-wallets, cash usage still remains widespread throughout the US. In fact, data shows 30% of US consumers prefer to use cash, with around 25 to 30% of all transactions being made with physical currency.
Debit & credit card payments
A debit card is a small card that is used to pay for goods or services online and in person. While debit cards may look like credit cards, when you make a purchase with one, funds are directly deducted from the account the card is linked to. If there are insufficient funds in the account, the card will be declined.
A credit card is also a small card that can be used to purchase goods and services online and in person. However, the main difference is that instead of funds getting withdrawn directly from the available funds in an account, funds are charged to a line of credit, which can be repaid later. If this line of credit is not repaid in time, interest is charged.
According to a 2022 US Statista Global Consumer Survey, 52% of consumers have used a debit card online in the last year, with 47% reporting using a credit card. Both payment methods remain extremely popular! The main debit and credit card brands in the US, include:
- American Express
There are three main types of electronic payments used in the US. These include:
An e-wallet, also referred to as a digital or mobile wallet is a software that stores payment information like credit card or banking details to enable the purchase of goods or services. Today, e-wallets are rapidly growing in popularity because they offer a quick, convenient, and contactless way of making payments online and in-store. According to a recent study, an estimated 150 million Americans currently use or have used a digital wallet in the past. Popular e-wallets used in the US include Apply Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, Cash App, and Paypal.
ACH transfers AKA direct deposits/direct payments
An Automated Clearing House transfer (ACH) is an electronic money transfer between banks that enables funds to be withdrawn from one account and deposited in another. ACH transfers use the ACH network and tend to be cheaper than bank transfers. They are processed in two ways. ACH debit transfers involve money getting pulled or withdrawn from an account, as is the case with recurring billing or subscription payments. On the other hand, ACH credit transactions allow funds to be pushed or sent to other accounts. This type of transfer usually involves any transaction made from a business to a customer or members of staff (payroll).
An eCheck or electronic check is a faster and safer digital version of a paper check that uses the ACH network to transfer funds. Instead of payment details printed on a physical check, information is electronically captured. Working with eChecks is easy, especially compared to traditional checks. Once a business has requested authorization from a customer, payment is set up, submitted, and processed through the Automated Clearing House Network. Funds are then withdrawn from the customer's account and deposited into the business account, usually within 3-5 days.
A bank transfer is a method of sending funds from one bank account to another. Bank transfers can be made via an online banking app or in-person at a bank branch. They offer an alternative for customers who don’t own a credit card and are a popular way of payment for large purchases because they are an incredibly safe, reliable, and secure payment method.
What method of payment is the most popular in the US?
When choosing which payment methods to offer your customers, it’s important to take into account that the US is a large and highly diverse market. The most popular method sometimes varies depending on the industry you’re operating in and the type of customers you serve. However, in general, card payments, including credit and debit cards, are the most widely used payment method due mainly to their flexibility and level of convenience for consumers. Over half (52%) of US consumers used a debit card in the last year, with 47% using a credit card. With such widespread usage, having the capability to know how to accept credit and debit cards is an absolute necessity for every type of business.
Most preferred payment method by age are?
Age groups tend to have different preferences when it comes to payments. The top payment methods for Millennials aged 26 to 41 are debit cards, credit cards, cash, and mobile wallets. Boomers aged 57 to 75 use checks more than any other age group. They also use debit and credit cards at a high rate. Gen Z's, aged between 9 and 25, also prefer debit cards followed by cash and then credit cards. Overall, studies suggest that the older a consumer is, the less likely they will be to use payment methods like ewallets and cryptocurrencies.
Which mobile payment methods do US citizens use?
Mobile payments have become an increasingly popular payment method in the US over the last decade. Today, over 150 million people, or 56% of the population in the US, are estimated to use mobile payments for in-store payments. Leading mobile payment apps include:
- Apple Pay
- Samsung Pay
- Cash App
- Google Pay
How can small businesses accept local payment methods?
Not having the right mix of local payment methods is one of the leading reasons customers abandon their purchase. As a business owner that sells products or services to US based consumers, that means you must be able to accept popular local payment methods for your business to succeed. While accepting multiple popular local payment options may sound simple enough, in reality, it can be quite challenging for small businesses.
Integrating each new payment method can be a slow and costly process. It can require technical knowhow and a deeper understanding of how payments work. Because of these challenges, it's usually best for small businesses to use the services of a payment gateway like Pay.com which help to speed things up and simplify the integration process and the management of payments moving forward.
Pay.com has established relationships with the most popular local payment providers in the US and is constantly adding new ones. With Pay.com, merchants can easily add local payment methods in a few clicks, eliminating unnecessary costs and saving small businesses from having to deal with complicated integrations on the backend.
Is Pay.com suitable to offer any help as a payment gateway provider
Pay.com is an online payment gateway that allows merchants to accept online and mobile payments quickly and easily. It offers many features to help businesses increase conversion rates, protect customers, and grow their business, from customizable checkouts to fraud management, PCI compliance, recurring billing, and other merchant tools such as customer analytics.
With Pay.com, merchants with US customers can rapidly learn how to accept popular payment methods such as credit and debit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Klarna, PaySafe, Skrill, Paypal, and much more without spending hours dealing with individual providers and integrating each method.