Credit and debit cards were the main means of payment used by Spaniards to pay for their trips in 2015, according to the Brain Trust Tourism Barometer. Specifically, 42% of trips were paid for by credit card, 31% by debit card and 27% by cash.

The Brain Trust Tourism Barometer also reveals that personal loans or payment deferrals are not frequent habits among Spanish travellers to finance their leisure activities.

The analysis of payment by social strata reveals that social class has a decisive influence. Thus, the upper stratum of Spanish society is the most frequent user of credit cards, with 64%, compared with 32% in the lower social classes. At the same time, the use of cash stands out in the lower income brackets, with 34%, compared with 13% in the part of Spanish society that generates the highest income.

The Barometer concludes that people with the lowest salaries try to spend on travel on the basis of their level of disposable income and/or liquidity, without financing themselves through alternative methods; in contrast, the upper economic classes reject the belief that they use cash to cover their travel expenses.

By region

Significant differences can also be seen in this aspect, depending on the more or less conservative culture and the level of employment. In the Basque Country, a region with a low level of unemployment, 50% of people use credit cards, compared with 17% who pay in cash; in contrast, in Andalusia, a region with a high level of unemployment, cash wins out at 34%.

La misma tendencia se desprende del análisis por edades. Los jóvenes, que por regla general tienen mayor dificultad para incorporarse al mercado laboral, se decantan por el pago en efectivo en un 36%, mientras que los viajeros «senior» sólo lo hacen en un 26%.

The conclusion is clear: the use of cash to pay for travel, contrary to what has been thought up to now, is not used by the wealthier classes, but by the less advantaged social stratum.

Travel cards and insurance

The Barometer also reveals that the insurance offered by credit cards is an important reason for using them. Some 51% of Spaniards still travel without insurance on their leisure trips, compared with 19% who do so with the insurance offered by the financial institutions that provide the cards. Likewise, 10% travel with travel insurance included in their private health policy, and 18% take it out either individually or through their travel agency.

The study also points out that the insurance taken out by travellers is not usually to cover the usual health care benefits (22%), nor accident cover (15%), but for eventual problems that seem to cause a bigger headache for travellers, such as cancellation (31%) or missed flights or lost luggage (26%).