Credit and Debit Cards Relied Upon for Most Payments in Canada

Most Canadians say that lack of cash compelled them to make a small purchase with their credit or debit card in the last month.

Vancouver, BC [May 6, 2022] – Canadians are currently using cash for transactions at a higher rate than during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but most payments continue to be made through alternative methods, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, Canadians relied on a credit card or a smartphone to finalize 46% of their purchases over the past month, down four points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in May 2020.

One third of purchases from Canadians (33%, -2) were completed with a debit card or e-transfer, while 3% (-9) entailed the use of a cheque. Cash was used for the remaining 18% of transactions (+15).

“Credit cards are the main form of payment for residents of British Columbia (58%) and Quebec (50%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The debit card is the preferred option for residents of Ontario (47%) and Alberta (43%).”

More than three-in-five Canadians (63%) say that, over the course of the past month, there was a time when they did not have any paper money with them and had to make a small purchase (less than $10) with their credit or debit card.

While 50% of Canadians aged 55 and over were caught without paper money in the past month, the proportion rises to 64% among those aged 35-to-54 and to 77% among those aged 18-to-34.

Half of Canadians (50%, -8) expect people to rely on biometrics (such as iris scans, fingerprints or palm recognition) to complete purchases at some point within the next 10 years.

Albertans are more likely to predict the introduction of biometric payments in the next 10 years (60%). Belief in this vision becoming reality is lower in Ontario (52%), Quebec (50%), British Columbia (also 50%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (43%) and Atlantic Canada (37%).

Almost half of Canadians (49%, +14) say they would not like to see people utilizing biometrics to buy things in their lifetimes. Just under two-in-five (39%, -11) would welcome this development, and 12% (-3) are undecided.

Men (43%), Canadians aged 18-to-34 (49%), Albertans (also 49%) and Quebecers (44%) are more likely to wish for the opportunity to make payments through biometrics in the future.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from April 25 to April 27, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]