Published on 18 December 2020
New research published today by LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, shows that despite a general fall in cash use it is still the most popular way to get money for Christmas.

Four in ten (40%) of respondents prefer to receive cash as a gift compared to 29% who prefer a bank transfer into their account. This is followed by gift cards (14%) and cheques (4%). However, one in twelve (8%) said they don’t like to receive money as a Christmas gift in any form.

Cash also proves popular across all age ranges including so-called Generation Z and Millennials. 45% of 16–24-year-olds surveyed preferring cash as a Christmas present compared to a bank transfer (36%). 43% of 25-39 year olds prefer cash compared to 36% who prefer to have it paid directly into their account.

The data also shows people prefer to give cash as a gift as well, with 40% saying they’d give cash followed by gift cards (26%) and bank transfers (20%).

According to the research, when asked to choose from a given list what the top reasons for giving cash as a Christmas present were:

  • That the recipient can use it to buy whatever they want (44%)
  • That it can be spent anywhere, unlike gift cards or vouchers. 42% said that they prefer cash for this reason.
  • That gift cards can be risky as the future of some shops is unknown at the moment. Nearly a quarter (23%) said they preferred cash for this reason.

Respondents would also give more cash to a closer family member or loved one, than they would to a friend. Among those who would give cash as a Christmas gift, the average amount they’d give to a family member is £42, compared to only £18 for a friend.

Across the UK, giving cash is most popular Northern Ireland (55%), followed by Wales (44%) and then London (42%) and Scotland (40%).

However, of those that were surveyed, a fifth (20%) said they have moved away from cash entirely, opting to never give cash as a Christmas present. In general, some of the reasons why people don’t like giving cash include:

  • 35% said that they give money in other forms as they don’t like sending cash in the post.
  • 23% said they think other forms of money (bank transfers/gift cards) are easier to send.
  • 18% think money in other forms (e.g. bank transfer, cheque, gift card etc.) are more personal than cash.

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK, said: “The nation has spoken and for anyone stuck for a last-minute gift, it looks like we’re happier with cash as a gift rather than a bank transfer or other ways to give money. Cash is tactile and seems more personal than a digital payment and to be honest, the new polymer notes are pretty smart.

 “However, some people prefer the security of sending a cheque in the post and this year in particular, families unable to meet up may choose to send money electronically or as a cheque.”

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