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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.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Ltd which is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.