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The Washington Post reports this morning that a new survey by the Federal Reserve says that in 2003, Americans used plastic credit and debit cards more than their checkbooks – the first time this has occurred.

A total of 44.5 billion electronic payment transactions crossed the wires in 2003, compared with 36.7 billion check payments. Just three years earlier, Americans wrote 41.9 billion checks, compared to 30.6 electronic payments.

The shift is attributed to the ubiquity of credit and debit card acceptance, which cuts across boundaries from expensive vacations to a fast food hamburger.
KC's View:
The irony is that much of the growth also has been driven by the expensive ad campaigns run by credit card companies trying to get people to use their signature-based debit cards, which carry a higher transaction fee than the traditional PIN-based debit cards as well as are more prone to fraud.

We’ve always thought that these campaigns themselves are a fraud, because they’ve created a false sense of security. It is amazing how many consumers and retailers don’t even know that they’re paying higher fees on these cards…and when you tell them, they look at you like you have three heads.

We won’t use the things just on principle. If they won’t take our PIN-based debit card, we write a check…or use something even more anachronistic: cash.