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Why Gen Z Americans Prefer Cash and Why it's Favored for Fast Food, Gas & Emergencies

Cash is the number one payment choice for Gen Z Americans - covering pre-teens to mid-twenties - who are more likely to choose it than older generations.

Cash for Emergencies

1,500 Americans were recently surveyed to assess their payment preferences in research conducted by OnePoll. The results showed Americans keep an average of $52 on their person, and three-quarters maintain an emergency stash of physical money averaging around $89. One in five said their emergency stash is above $200, and most kept their bills in a spare purse or wallet (29%) or a home safe (18%). More unusual hiding places included old prescription bottles and between the pages of books.

Gen Z Prefers Cash

52% of Gen Z respondents reported preferring cash to other payment methods: the highest of any age group. Cash was also highlighted as a valuable budgeting tool, with 51 percent of all respondents saying it was a help with their personal finance management.

There’s this perception that cash is disappearing, and it is not. What we are seeing is that consumers still see cash playing an important role in how they manage their money and make payments.

John Clatworthy

Director of Client Services, Cash Connect

Cash for Tipping & Other Needs

Just over a third of people said they went out of their way to withdraw cash specifically for tipping, even if they were planning to use a different payment method for the actual bill. Cash is also preferred for indulgences such as fast food (44%) and candy (37%), while also remaining popular for practicalities such as gas (27%).

Overall, 82% of financial decision-makers reported their businesses have seen steady cash payments over the last five years, alongside an increase in digital payments.

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Originally published by


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