Why Consumers Prefer Debit Cards for Everyday Purchases and What Businesses Should Do About It

For modern consumers, there is no shortage of ways to pay, which is why it’s so important that businesses provide their customers with as much payment flexibility as possible. But when it comes to certain purchases, consumers have distinct preferences that businesses should take into consideration.

For example, a recent study of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, commissioned by NerdWallet, found that debit cards are the preferred payment method for everyday purchases, such as groceries, gas, restaurants and entertainment.1 Here are a couple of reasons why debit cards may be the number one choice for everyday payments and why you should consider accepting debit if you don’t already.

Reason #1: Consumers Associate Debit Cards with Responsibility

When asked how they felt using debit cards instead of credit cards, a significantly higher number of respondents said debit made them feel more responsible. Conversely, the respondents said they felt more impulsive, anxious and overwhelmed when describing credit cards.

Because debit cards draw funds directly from an individual’s bank account, it makes sense that people would perceive debit spending as more responsible. You’re not spending money that you don’t have, which makes it ideal for everyday items that you’d expect to have in a normal budget.

Reason #2: Consumers Are Concerned About Debt

The study also showed that consumers are acutely aware of credit card debt. While credit cards can provide better purchase protection for customers, not to mention a wide range of reward benefits, using them may mean the potential for accumulating credit card debit. If you pay down this debt each month, it’s no problem, but when that isn’t possible, you risk incurring costly interest payments.

According to the research, “debit card users are more likely to have been in credit card debt compared with credit card users.” Given this information, the tension and anxiety that comes from carrying credit card debt has led some consumers to prefer using their debit cards whenever possible because they know it’s money that they have readily available.

Businesses Must Include Debit Payments Among a Range of Options

Consumers want flexibility in how they can pay. That includes not only the types of payments they make, but also how they make those payments. That means if a customer wants to make a debit payment from their internet-enabled smart watch, the business should find a way to make it happen. In a fast-moving world, businesses must be prepared to adopt new technologies quickly to address their customers’ needs.

Given how important debit cards are to so many consumers, it is essential that businesses are equipped to accept debit payments. Because when businesses enable customers to pay with their preferred card type, they can reduce the likelihood of an abandoned purchase. Fortunately, businesses that partner with the Discover Global Network can get set up for debit payments quickly and easily through their processor.

Discover Global Network works with banks and credit unions to enable debit programs without high costs and complexity. Getting started is simple since the majority of businesses are already set up to accept Discover Debit payments via the Discover Global Network. Additionally, transaction prices are either lower or competitive with other major payment services. Finally, Discover Global Network partners have access to a wide range of additional features and support services.

To enable all payment options, including debit, call your processor.

Not sure if your business is ready to accept debit? Test your terminal today.


1 “Americans Favor Debit Over Credit for Their Go-To Card,” NerdWallet, September 2017.

The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

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