In half of the Central European countries, cards are a more popular means of payment than cash

12/14/2023   •   Customer news
In half of the Central European countries, cards are a more popular means of payment than cash
In a survey conducted by the CEPER company in 12 Central European countries, the absolute majority of the population owns credit or debit cards. However, in six countries, over 50 percent of respondents pay more often with cash than with cards. Among them is Serbia, where 78 percent of respondents own a card, but even 71 percent use cash more often than payment cards. 

As the holiday season opens in Central Europe, the focus is not only on the search for the perfect gift, but also on payment preferences that shape the holiday shopping experience. CEPER's research provides insight into how residents manage their transactions. 

Debit and credit cards are widely present in Central Europe, with over 80% of respondents owning them in countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. Austria has the lead with as many as 93% of respondents having payment cards. However, the real surprise is how many Europeans still prefer cash, especially in Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania. In these countries, over 50% of respondents prefer cash. The percentage of those who always or more often pay in cash (rather than using cards) in Serbia is 71%. In Montenegro – even 76%. 

On the other hand, in the Czech Republic, where the card penetration rate is 90%, as many as 69% of respondents prefer to use cards over cash – the Czechs are the most in favor of using cards. 

Loyalty to traditional cash transactions is noticeable in countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Romania. In all these countries, more than 20% of respondents insist that they always use cash. In Serbia, that percentage is 41%, while Montenegro leads with a striking 51% of respondents who prefer the tangible reliability of cash. In other words, while other payment methods are widely available for Europeans, a large percentage of them stick to cash. 

Although ownership of cutting-edge smart devices is on the rise, their integration into the payment environment still appears less widespread. Surprisingly, as many as 55% of respondents in Central Europe said they never use smart devices for contactless payments. 

In Serbia, one-fifth, that is 20% of respondents, said that they always or sometimes use smart devices for contactless payment, which is the same percentage as in North Macedonia, and in Montenegro, it is 33%. The highest penetration of the use of smart gadgets for payments was recorded in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania. In Romania, 44% of respondents stated that they sometimes or always use electronic payment devices, in the Czech Republic and Poland, 41% of respondents.
In half of the Central European countries, cards are a more popular means of payment than cash