Consumers use cash over cards for holiday sales

A new report suggests many consumers could still be tightening their belts this holiday season, especially when it comes to credit card purchases.

The United Service Automobile Association recently released its holiday spending survey, which included interviews with more than 1,000 adults.

The poll found 90 percent of respondents reported they planned to use cash over plastic this season. The number rose 5 percent from similar figures in 2009 and is up almost 50 percent from credit card usage in 2008. USAA found of those consumers who are setting holiday budgets, 76 percent vowed to stick closer to it this year.

USAA’s survey found that the top reason for using cash over other options was to avoid credit card debt. Of those surveyed, 42 percent of respondents provided that answer.

“The survey findings indicate that adopting better money habits as a result of the Great Recession isn’t a fad, but more of a long-term trend,” says Joseph Montanaro, a financial planner with USAA.

USAA found 50 percent of consumers plan to spend less or not buy gifts at all this holiday season.