The Ways Canadian Customers are Choosing to Pay

September 16, 2019

From early adopters who grew reliant on digital wallets in their beta phase, to late adopters who still keep their wallets lined with cash, Canadians rely on a number of payment methods every day. But which is most popular?

Credit Cards

In the popularity battle between credit and debit cards, credit cards have continued to reign champion for Canadian consumers in terms of spending dollars. There’s a number of different possibilities for why credit cards continue to remain so popular; maybe it’s the rewards that come with certain cards, like cash back or loyalty points; maybe it’s the ease of using credit instead of personally available funds. Whatever the reason, credit cards are one of the most commonly used card-type during payment.

According to a Payments Canada study, the volume of credit card transactions was 4.9 billion in 2018, which equates to approximately $554 billion dollars; these numbers include in-store and online purchases, where credit cards continue to grow in popularity.

Debit Cards

Many of us have come to rely on debit cards as our tried and true piece of plastic in our wallets; or more recently, loaded into our digital wallets. Debit cards offer Canadian shoppers the ease of accessing their own funds through a simple tap, while providing the security of a bank-protected account. Additionally nearly all Canadians have a direct deposit system set up to a bank account, meaning that debit cards are in the hands and wallets of almost every resident. 

Though credit cards may account for a higher dollar value per year, debit cards are more popular in terms of transaction volume. In 2018 there were 5.8 billion transactions made on debit cards, which equates to $247 billion dollars. There could be a number of reasons for the higher number of transactions and lower dollar value, including consumers using debit cards for less expensive purchases where interest rates and rebates aren’t worth it.

Contactless Transactions

Contactless transactions are a payment type that continues to grow in popularity as the decade progresses. These transactions include “tapping” a card, as well as the use of digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay at a terminal. As the security features in contactless technologies become stronger and the benefits of the ease of use grow, contactless transactions have become a common sight in checkout lines.

As reported in our most recent MonerisMetrics spend report, contactless spending accounted for 52.5% of all credit and debit transactions in Canada in Q2 2019 (April, May and June). To accept contactless payments, merchants simply have to ensure that their terminals are NFC enabled.


Over the past decade, the use of cash has continued to decline in Canada. The value of cash transactions in 2018 was the lowest of all of the payment options customers have today, totalling $114 billion. There are a number of likely causes for this, including the convenience and ease of credit and debit cards, and the digitization of once cash-only industries. According to a recent release by the Retail Council of Canada, only 15 per cent of retail consumers regularly pay with cash. If you’re a retail business owner, this means that 85% of your customers are looking for payment options that require an up-to-date payment terminal.

If you’re interested in learning more about payment trends, make sure to check out our article How Small Business Owners Can Stay Informed on Payment Trends.

The information in this article is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal, business or other professional advice or an endorsement of any of the websites or services listed. 

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