What Americans Pay For - and How 'Information Age' Bills Keep Piling Up

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

02/07/2007 - Paying the monthly bills is a different experience for Americans now than it was a generation ago, a new Pew Research Center survey has found. A sizable minority of adults do most of their transactions online. A sizable majority pays for one or more of the "big three" information age consumer staples each month– internet connection, cell phone service and cable or satellite television service. And at the same time that they are carrying the cost of these new technologies, Americans are also paying off record levels of credit card debt each month.

The Pew survey finds that nearly three-in-ten adults (28%) say the most common way they take care of their regular monthly bills is by an online or electronic payment. A bare majority (54%) mostly uses checks, and a small minority (15%) mostly uses cash.

The survey also finds that at or near the top of the public's list of regular expenses are cable or satellite television service (78% of adults say they pay such bills every month); cell phone service (74%) and internet connections (65%). These information age staples either didn't exist or were in their infancy a generation ago. When survey respondents were given a list of common household expenses, the only one they cited as often as these three was housing (76%).

Another regular expense for most Americans is credit card bills. Among the 58% of adults who say they have a credit card as a regular household expense, about four-in-ten (41%) report that they generally pay their credit card bills in full each month while a 53% majority says that they usually make a payment. Credit card usage and debt have grown dramatically over the past generation, according to government and industry reports.

Read the full report What Americans Pay For - and How 'Information Age' Bills Keep Piling Up on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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