Talking ‘Bout My Generation

August 28, 2023

Our Annual Payments Study tracks payment preferences from Zoomers to Boomers to help our brand and merchant partners better understand their customers.

Debit card was the favorite way to pay for all generations.

What else did respondents have to say about how they like to pay?

Hover over the blue dots below for more takeaways.

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Boomer and Gen Xers say convenience is the reason for choosing their favorite payment method.

Millennials and Gen Z prefer ease of use when choosing their favorite.

Gen Z is least likely to use credit cards or personal checks in the near future.

Boomers care the most about merchant acceptance of their preferred payment method.

Embracing cash, avoiding debt and often resisting the latest emerging payment methods, Gen Z is entering the consumer sphere with a blend of unique and throwback preferences.

Prefer cash more than any other generation; they were the only group to rank cash second among their favorite ways to pay.

This comes at the expense of credit cards, which Gen Z ranked noticeably lower than any other generation.

They were also the most likely to use cash for a big-ticket purchase.

Had the least concerns about security of their favorite payment method among all generations – perhaps due to their higher use of cash, lower use of credit, and tendency to wait before adopting new technology. Their concerns decreased by 18% year-over-year.

Mobile wallet as a favorite way to pay increased by 85% year-over-year.

Gen Z were less motivated by incentives and rewards when it comes to choosing their favorite payment method.

But when they did seek deals and coupons, they used the widest range of sources to discover them:

Direct email was the leading method for every other generation; Gen Z ranked it outside of their top five.

Having faced two financial crises and a digital revolution in their formative years, Millennials are ready to embrace change. They are, however, focused on getting the most direct value out of their choices.

Reported increased use of gift cards compared to last year for dining, everyday in-store purchases and everyday online purchases.

Compared to other generations, Millennials are the least likely to use cash in the next three months.

They are most likely to use mobile wallets and personal payment apps among all generations; they are also more likely to make payments using cryptocurrency.

60% of Millennials would be likely to change payment methods if they received an incentive to switch.

Almost one-third of Millennials have changed payment methods due to current economic conditions; significantly more than earlier generations.

Millennials are also most likely to spend more time looking for coupons now than they had in the past, with 63% using coupons or discounts for at least half of their trips. They tied with Gen Z as most likely to find coupons on social media over in-store signage.

Gen Xers rarely stand out as outliers in the payments space, using the tools their parents taught them (more than they’d probably like to admit) while adopting new methods that work for their use-cases.

Like Boomers before them, Gen X ranked credit cards as their top option for big ticket purchases (while younger generations chose debit).

Reported using cash less often than last year – and using credit and personal payment apps more.

Their habits are blended:

  • After Millennials, they’re the most likely to use QR code or barcode payments.
  • They’re less likely to use credit cards than any generation besides Gen Z.
  • They rate cash more favorably than anyone other than Gen Z.

Increased year-over-year preference for cash, credit and gift cards when dining or picking up food.

They have the highest affinity for engaging with retailer loyalty programs.

Old school at heart, Boomers are sticking to familiar payment methods and spending less of their time learning new tricks or hunting for special offers.

Most likely to use cash, credit cards and personal checks in the near future compared to any other generation.

Least likely to use mobile wallets and personal payment apps.

Had the highest affinity for personal checks among all generations (by far):

#1 for recurring payments.

#3 for paying someone familiar to them.

Only 13% said they have changed payment types due to current economic conditions, the lowest of all generations – perhaps because many are nearing or reaching retirement age, reducing their concerns about career stability, or longer-time homeowners, reducing the impact of the housing market.

Going against the stereotype, they are the least likely to use coupons consistently when shopping.

Adoption of Newer Methods

Emerging payment methods are, somewhat expectedly, adopted to different degrees by different generations. They also tend to get more consistent traction in specific use cases that maximize their value to the user.

Mobile wallet use was highest among Millennials and Gen Z for everyday in-store purchases.

Tap-and-go payments for everyday in-store purchases was up year-over-year for all generations.

Personal payment apps were ranked second for paying familiar and unfamiliar individuals for all generations with the exception of Boomers paying someone familiar (where it ranked third after checks)

Millennials were most likely to use Buy Now, Pay Later for big ticket purchases, followed by Gen X.

Modern Retail Solutions

Through account funding and cash digitization technology, merchants are able to expand the services they can offer to their customers – services which can save valuable time as shoppers navigate their busy lives.

Most generations expressed strong interest in the ability to conduct banking at retail stores where they routinely shopped.

Respondents who would prefer banking services at retail compared to a bank branch to some degree:

Millennials:

%

Gen Z:

%

Gen X:

%

Boomers:

%

The breakdown was similar for paying medical bills in-store at retail, with Gen Z expressing the highest level of interest.

Respondents who expressed interest in paying medical bills at retail:

Gen Z:

%

Millennials:

%

Gen X:

%

Boomers:

%

However they’re paying, consumers of all ages want their chosen method to be convenient, easy and accepted everywhere they normally shop.

With a single integration, InComm Payments can empower merchants to accept established and new and emerging payment types with the speed and reliability consumers desire. Contact us to learn more.

As a leading payments technology company, we value our role in understanding consumer payment trends and market metrics.

For our annual payment study, we surveyed 3,236 consumers in July 2023 to better understand how they’re paying, how and why they prefer certain payment methods, and other insights into their payment preferences and use-cases.

Generation Parameters:

  • Baby Boomer: 1946-1964
  • Gen X: 1965-1980
  • Millennial: 1981-1996
  • Gen Z: 1997-2012

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