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Travelers want to use credit cards, but often can’t

Payments Dive

TSG’s self-reported survey included 1,800 adult English speakers in 13 countries, 225 of which were American. The credit card company Discover commissioned the survey, which was fielded between December 2023 and January 2024.

Travelers want speed and convenience when they make purchases, and that often means using a credit card, the survey found.

But more often than not, people who travel the world end up using cash or debit cards, because the credit cards they use at home are not accepted in the places they visit.

While the Strawhecker Group’s survey found that North Americans picked credit cards as their preferred method of payment, travelers from other regions of the globe show a preference for debit cards. For example, 78% of survey participants from the Oceania region — which includes Australia and Polynesia — said they prefer debit cards, while 70% of European travelers said they prefer debit cards.

A clear majority (73%) of those surveyed said their credit cards were not accepted in at least one place they traveled to, and 43% said they pulled back on spending in at least one instance because they couldn’t use a credit card.

Debit cards are by far the most widely used payment method when people travel, with 64% of respondents saying they use debit cards for travel-related expenses, followed by cash, which 43% of respondents said they use when they travel, and credit cards, which 42% of respondents said they use (survey participants could pick more than one payment method).

“The use of cash declined significantly during the pandemic, as evidenced by fewer ATM withdrawals and higher use of digital payment methods,” TSG wrote. “However, it seems cash is essential for travelers to carry.”

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