Research has shown that people are willing to spend more when paying with credit cards rather than cash – up to 83 % in some cases. While there are benefits to paying with credit cards, they don't explain this huge increase in willingness to pay. We surveyed a variety of studies about credit card spending and presented some of the most widely accepted explanations offered by leading experts.

• How much more do consumers spend on credit cards than on cash?
• Why do we spend more with credit cards?
• People are now using credit cards more than ever

How much more do consumers spend on credit cards than on cash?

When asked to bid on tickets for Celtics and Red Sox games and banners for these teams, business students were willing to pay 83% more when paying by credit card than when paying cash. Since the bids were placed in a sealed auction and the participants were not given any information about the market value of the items, they were not influenced by the evaluation of others or the predetermined ticket price.

This means that the difference in bid amount between the cash and credit card groups is directly influenced by their subconscious desire to pay more when using that payment method. This phenomenon is known as the credit card premium.

When credit cards are used over cash, the increase in spending extends to tipping at restaurants. With credit cards for international Transaction, customers have been shown to leave 13% more tips than their cash-paying counterparts.

While this is significantly lower than the 83% growth, it reinforces the trend of increased payments with credit cards. The table below -- which represents data from a major study on the topic -- displays the increase in tip amounts for checks paid by cash versus credit card-paid checks.

Even the presence of a credit card logo has an impact on how we value items when we make decisions about purchases. Consumers are shown on average willing to pay 10% more when the credit card logo is present than when no logo is present.

One possible explanation for this is that we spend and have preconditions for having a positive association with credit cards. This makes sense when you consider that credit cards heavily market their rewards.

The effect of a payment method on willingness to pay does not apply to credit cards alone. It has been shown that consumers also spend more when they pay with "scripps" (a type of in-store currency) and gift cards. Scrip-paying consumers spent an average of 15% more than those who paid cash. Similarly, consumers who were given gift cards in lieu of cash were shown to be more likely to spend rather than save.

All but one of the studies we surveyed reported an increase in spending when credit cards were used instead of cash. However, the findings of this study should be considered with caution, as the researchers used methods that focused specifically on the credit card versus cash decision. This increases the likelihood that participants will be familiar with their spending habits and therefore less likely to spend regardless of payment method. In addition, the timing of the research coincides with the Great Recession (2007–2009), during which consumers may be wary of credit card spending.

Why do we spend more with credit cards?

While there are benefits to paying with a credit card -- such as earning rewards and building credit -- they don't account for the hefty premium that consumers are willing to pay. While there are no definitive answers explaining this phenomenon, there are several popular theories that have emerged over the years.

Credit card buyers focus on benefits over costs:

There is evidence that shows that when consumers use credit cards, they focus more on the benefit than the cost of the product. Credit card users were 28% better at recalling aspects related to the benefits of the product than cash users. In contrast, cash users were 82% better at recalling aspects related to the cost of an item than credit card users.

Group shopping seems small

Some have suggested that the reason for consumers' willingness to pay so much for similar products or services is psychological. One theory is that when purchases are grouped together—for example, on a credit card statement—individual transactions are considered small. For example, a $50 purchase on a $600 credit card statement doesn't sound like a big deal on its own why not me book in the end.

This is related to a psychological concept called coupling, which is essentially how much the purchase of a product is tied to the actual payment. In terms of credit card spending, the fact that you don't have to pay for purchases until your credit card bill is due makes the money spent when you're weighing the benefits of the transaction.

Author's Bio: 

Marie Duggan writes for business marketers and SEO tool users to make their websites rank on google,
She has written for a number of websites i.e.,, inside tech box and eLearning industry,
She is a regular contributor to with most digital marketing, SEO techniques, and tech-related articles.