A recent study showed that people who use their credit cards to buy food make poorer nutritional choices than those who pay with cash. The New York Times reports that using a credit card decreases the “pain of payment,” but also seems to make consumers feel less guilty about purchasing junk food.
“[W]hen consumers encounter vice products — such as cookies, cakes and pies — the emotive imagery and associated desire trigger impulsive purchase decisions,” the authors write. But “pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses and thus reduce the purchase of such vice products.”
For six months, the survey tracked the spending behavior of 1,000 single-member households that usually shop in chain grocery stores. They did not assign subjects which form of payment to use. The researchers also found that shoppers with larger baskets were more likely to make impulse buys of cakes and cookies.
Next time you go to the grocery store, why not plan on paying with cash instead of plastic? You’ll probably eat better afterwords.