9 American Wallet Facts You Need to Know

by Ankit Rawal on February 04, 2020

American wallet trends have changed over the years with the invention of credit cards, mobile payment systems, and fashion trends. If you’re looking for a new wallet or simply interested in the changing trends, keep reading to discover 9 interesting facts about American wallets and consumer spending habits.

About The Survey  

The Paperwallet team polled 759 people across the United States to learn more about their habits and preferences when it comes to wallets and making payments.


1.  Over 80% of People Still Carry Cash Regularly 

Nobody carries cash these days, right? Wrong! Out of the 759 people we polled, 80%-90% of people reported they still carried cash regularly. A whopping 92% of people from the Western region of the United States reported that they carried cash all the time. 

How much cash should you carry? 

Well, that depends on what your spending habits are like. If you just want to use cash for small purchases such as your morning coffee or snacks, $15-$20 is probably sufficient.  

There are a variety of reasons you should keep more cash in your wallet, from tipping your servers to highway tolls. 


How much cash should I carry?



2. 19.95% of Americans Don’t Carry Any Cards

In a world that seems dominated by credit and debit cards, it’s surprising that some people don’t carry any cards in their wallets! Over 20% of Americans living in the Northeastern States reported that they don’t carry any type of credit card or debit card in their wallets.

On the other hand, respondents from the Western states carried the most credit cards, with 11.9% of respondents frequently holding on to seven or more cards in their wallets. The Midwestern region had the least number of people claiming to carry seven or more cards, at only 4.4%.  


American wallet trends


3. 24% of Americans Use Cash For All of Their Purchases

A survey by Gallup showed that approximately 24% of Americans used cash for all of their purchases. In 2011, 36% of Americans were using cash only, so cash use decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2016. As you might expect, the survey indicated that young Americans reported the greatest decrease in cash use.

However, more Americans responded that they were making “some” of their purchases with cash than they were 5 years ago.   



4. Cash In Circulation Increased Between 2007 and 2012 

The cash in circulation in the US grew by 42% between 2007 and 2012. That doesn’t mean that the number of cash transactions grew by 42%. It’s hard to examine exactly how many cash transactions take place, but one study found that between 42% and 82% of transactions took place with cash. The researchers analyzed a variety of countries, not just the United States. 

Either way, it’s clear that Americans are still stuffing their wallets with a healthy mix of both cash and cards. 



5. Minimalist Wallets Are The New Trend  

As minimalist lifestyles become more popular in recent years, so do minimalist products. Slim wallets are compact and don’t take up much space in a pocket or bag, but they’re also durable and built to last. 

Minimalist wallets are the perfect compromise for those looking to downsize their wallet but still carry all of the cash and cards that they need to.  


buy american wallets 


6. Digital Wallet Use Is Increasing  

While many people still use cash, digital wallet use is increasing too. In China, Norway, UK, Japan, and Australia, digital wallet use is increasing fast. American digital wallet use is increasing too, but at a slower pace than the aforementioned countries.

While digital wallets are convenient and fast, they can be cumbersome for some people who aren’t as comfortable using new technology. Like debit cards and credit cards, digital payment methods are traceable, which is a major drawback for those looking to protect their anonymity while making purchases. Of course, cryptocurrency is technically untraceable, but it’s far from being accessible. As of 2020, you can’t walk into the grocery store or gas station and pay with Bitcoin. 

Liz J. from Pennsylvania is the Vice President of Marketing at Faveable. She told us about why her favorite American money accessory trend is all digital:

“I rarely bring a physical wallet with me while out and about in Philadelphia anymore, as nearly every business around me accepts payment by digital wallet! Since I don't want to risk losing my debit card and I always have my phone on me, it's just easier for me to pay with a digital wallet. It's also faster to pay that way as you don't have to go digging for your credit card.”


7. More People Are Starting to Use Rubber Bands as Wallets

According to Justin Garrison from Lifehacker, a rubber band wallet was the best wallet he’s ever had.   

For some people, the idea of adding anything extra to their pockets isn’t ideal. 

Whether you’re looking for the ultimate form of minimalism or trying to save money, a new American wallet trend is simply ditching money holders altogether and opting for a singular rubber band instead.

Daniel H. from New York told us why a rubber band is the only wallet accessory he needs:

“I like to keep things simple, especially when living in a busy city where there isn’t much time to waste rifling through a wallet. I used to have a money clip, but found that if I didn’t have a certain amount of cards or cash, it would keep slipping off. Now, I just wrap a rubber band around whatever I need to bring with me. It keeps everything together and doesn’t add any bulk.”



8. It’s Illegal for Some Businesses to Not Accept Cash 

If you’re one of the 21% of Americans who don’t carry any cards with them, you’re in luck!

Did you know there are several states that had to enact laws to require businesses to accept cash? If you live in one of these American states, chances are you’ll be more likely to stash both cards and cash in your wallet. The progress made with digital transactions - from credit and debit cards to mobile cash apps has come to a point where many establishments do not accept cash at all. This has posed quite a problem for several states, leading legislators to mandate that cash be made an option for payment across the state. 

Most of these laws are very recent and only became official as of 2019. The only states who were early adopters of this idea are New York and Massachusetts. Most laws apply to in-person transactions only for vendors of goods and basic services. Common exclusions include parking facilities, rental car companies, airport vendors, and merchants selling goods through memberships. Fines for offenders range between $2,000 to $5,000.

States with laws around this issue include:

  • Massachusetts 
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey 
  • New York
  • Oregon 
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania 

Additionally, there are select cities across the United States, like San Francisco and Washington D.C., proposing similar amendments. Fines would range from $50 to $1,000 for each infraction. In San Francisco, the change would affect only the purchase of goods and services, exempting professional services. In Washington D.C., the proposal is to apply the law to all retail establishments. 



9. Sustainable and Hand-Made Wallets Are Gaining Popularity

According to SurveyMonkey, 1 in 3 consumers prefer eco-friendly products, even if the eco-friendly version is slightly more expensive. Many savvy consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about where their products come from.  

Eco-conscious shoppers are starting to rule out leather, faux leather, and plastic wallets in favor of recyclable and long-lasting wallets. Brands like Paperwallet use environmentally friendly materials to create their wallets so that they can be recycled after use.  


Minimalist wallet


If you’re a cash or card carrier, Paperwallet has a variety of minimalist and artistic wallets to choose from. All of Paperwallet’s products are made of eco-friendly Tyvek®, long-lasting, and 100% recyclable.  

We’d bet cash on the fact that cash isn’t dying anytime soon! There’s no need to panic and switch to a digital wallet if you don’t want to. 



Please note, comments must be approved before they are published