Credit Card Processing Blog

Insights into Payment Preferences by Age Groups

Oct 06, 2016 08:00 AM / by Reliance Star


In today’s modern world, consumers have so many choices when it comes to payment methods. Ranging from checks to mobile payments, your business’s customers will each have their own preferences. More specifically, these preferences can be broken down by age groups. It is important to understand the preferences of your customers so that you can accommodate their wishes and maintain their loyalty.


The youngest generation has grown up in a world of technology, so they are the most comfortable with using newer methods, like ApplePay and PayPal. Wireless forms of payment are the most popular among this generation when compared to other generations. Millennials are typically the first to try out new payment methods as they are introduced.

Aside from modern payment methods, millennials also favor the use of prepaid cards and gift cards. The reasoning behind this may be that millennials typically have shorter credit histories and may not be able to qualify for traditional credit cards. They use prepaid cards to help build their credit so that they can obtain other financing methods in the future.

Generation Y

Generation Y is the next generation older than millennials. They are young enough to have experience with mobile technologies but are also old enough to remember the payment methods of the past. Because of this, preferences of those in this generation tend to vary widely. One unique feature of this group, though, is that they tend to use cash more frequently than any other generation. Those in Generation Y remember the financial crisis of 2008, so many of them are reluctant to take on debt by using credit cards, which could be the reasoning behind their penchant for using cash.


Middle-aged adults have more buying power than any other generation, thanks to their long work historyies and higher salaries. This makes it exceedingly important that your business caters to the preferences of this age bracket. Middle-aged adults also tend to have higher credit scores than their younger counterparts, so they are the most likely to rely on credit cards for their payments. 

They have been using credit cards for the majority of their lives, so they are perfectly comfortable using plastic. However, they may not necessarily understand newer technologies, like credit cards equipped with EMV chips. This is likely to change, though, as more publicity is drawn to the ability of EMV cards to prevent credit card fraud and identity theft. 

Senior Citizens

The oldest generation is the most settled in the old ways. Many senior citizens still prefer to pay by check, rather than using more modern payment methods. However, the majority of modern businesses no longer accept checks, so senior citizens often use credit cards as well, especially American Express. This is likely because they value the prestige that comes along with American Express cards, even though they are not as widely accepted as other credit cards.

Why These Differences Matter

Depending on the nature of your business, your customers may be concentrated in a particular generation. For example, a business that sells trendy clothing will likely appeal more to millennials than senior citizens. Understanding the breakdown of your customer base, at least in a general manner, can help you to narrow down the payment options you’ll need to have. 

While it is best to offer your customers as many payment options as possible, you’ll want to make sure that your business, at the very least, offers the methods preferred by your customers. Adopting new payment methods can be costly at first, so you’ll want to focus your funds on the methods that matter the most to your customers, regardless of the cost.

Topics: PCI, NFC, Mobile Wallets