Americans spent more on debit cards than credit cards for the second year running, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research. Analysts at the financial industry think tank told reporters that the recession has created a "cautious consumer" that prefers to hoard cash while reducing debt. Although 87% of consumers used credit cards at some point in 2007, only 56% used credit cards in 2009. Monthly figures indicate that the firm's final report for the year will show 2010 credit card usage at under 50% for the first time in decades.

Debit cards with many of the same features and protections as credit cards have helped Americans make the switch, according to the report. Likewise, merchants have incentivized consumers to select PIN-based card transactions at checkout over swiped credit card authorizations, making bank-issued debit cards more attractive to shoppers. With fee structures and features similar to checking accounts, more consumers switched from using from traditional banks to retail-based, reloadable debit cards in 2010.