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Over 50s go cash-free, with use of cash more than halving in the last two years

Posted on 2 January 2018

  • More than half of over 50s now use debit, credit and contactless cards to pay for smaller items
  • Number of over 50s using cash for small items has halved in just two years
  • One in 20 over 50s now use contactless, up from one in 50 two years ago

Over 50s are more likely to use a card to pay for incidental items than cash, according to the latest research from over 50s specialist insurer, SunLife.

In contrast to the stereotype that older people prefer to pay in cash or write a cheque, SunLife's Cash Happy report has found that people over 50 are choosing credit, debit and contactless cards to pay for small, everyday purchases over cash.

When SunLife first launched Cash Happy in 2015, the report found that more than four in five over 50s used cash to pay for smaller items leaving just one in five paying by card.

Just two years later, this has shifted completely and the number of over 50s that use cash to pay for everyday items has halved to just two in five, while the number that use a card has tripled.

While most over 50s use credit or debit cards to make these small, everyday purchases, one in 20 now use contactless, which is a huge rise from two years ago when just one in 50 used contactless.

How do you typically pay for incidental everyday items?201720162015Change since 2015
Cash 41% 46% 83% -51%
Debit card 30% 25% 7% +328%
Credit card 23% 25% 8% +187.5%
Contactless card 5% 3% 2% +150%
Cards (net) 58% 53% 17% +241%
Other 1% 1% 0% -

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife said: "Our Big 50 study reveals that more than a third of over 50s say they have more disposable income since turning 50 and more than half say they want to have fun with their money and to spend and enjoy it now.

"This latest data supports that even further, showing that, not only are over 50s enjoying more financial freedom, but they are exercising that financial freedom by embracing the technology that allows them to make the purchases they want, when they want.

"With more than 100 million contactless cards in circulation, its use is only going to grow with UK Finance predicting a fourfold increase in the next ten years. People over 50 have shown that they are embracing the change - they are clearly a group ready to move with the times."

Find out more about how Over 50s are embracing life - Welcome to Life After 50.