Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Paper Or Plastic: How Americans Buy Stuff, In 1 Graph

Quick question: How many times do you pay for stuff in a given month? Not how much do you spend, but how many times do you exchange dollars for goods or services — pay a bill, put gas in your car, download a song from iTunes, pick up a sandwich for lunch, whatever.

We'd never even considered that question until we saw this newly published survey from the Boston Fed, which includes lots of interesting tidbits on how (and how often) Americans buy stuff and pay bills. For example: The average American exchanges money for goods or services 73 times a month.

The survey also asks people how they pay for stuff. Among the findings: Americans use debit cards more often than any other form of payment. And they still use cash more often than credit cards.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Quoctrung Bui