Most Americans Used Stimulus Checks To Pay Bills

Woman going through bills at home.
urbazon / Getty Images

A new survey shows that once stimulus checks started to appear in people’s accounts, they almost immediately began to use the money to pay household bills.

The survey — by online bill pay service doxo — shows that from March 17 to March 21, there was a 30% increase in the number of payments as compared to the same period last month. During that time frame, the total amount of payments made were 37% higher, according to doxo data.

The $1,400 direct-payment checks for Americans are part the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden earlier this month.   

See: A Fourth Stimulus Check Might Be on the Way
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The doxo findings are also corroborated by a recent GOBankingRates survey, which shows that 55% of respondents would use a stimulus check to pay bills. The survey also shows a notable gender difference, with 60% of women saying they would pay their bills with their stimulus checks, compared to 48% of men.

In addition, the GOBankingRates survey notes that 14% would use their stimulus check to put it in savings, with 16% of men and 12% of women choosing to do so.

Other key findings include the fact that 12% of respondents — both men and women — say they would use it spend it on food or other necessities; 11% to pay rent or mortgages, with 9% and 11% for women and men, respectively; 5% would invest it, with 8% for men and only 2% for women; and 4% would use it to splurge on nonessentials, with 3% for women and 6% for men. 

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According to doxo’s data, consumers are using the stimulus money to pay down debt they owe, in what appears to be big chunks.

“The fact that the average payment amount increased even greater than the volume is an indication that many people were catching up on missed or reduced prior payments,” doxo said in the report.

“We’re getting a strong signal that, generally, the majority of people are being responsible with these payments,” Jim Kreyenhagen, VP of marketing and consumer services at doxo, told CNBC. “It’s not surprising that Americans opted to use their stimulus checks to pay their bills. People have been putting debt on credit cards. We know that was building up,” he added.

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The bill-pay categories that consumers paid with their stimulus checks include:

  • Credit cards: Doxo shows a 29% increase in credit card payments as compared to the same period last month, and a 72% increase in terms of the amount paid.
  • Utilities: There was a 23% increase in utilities payments as compared to the same period last month, and a 41% increase in terms of the amount paid, according to doxo.
  • Cable/internet: Doxo notes a 20% increase in cable/internet payments as compared to the same period last month, and a 25% increase in terms of the amount paid.
  • Mobile phone: There was a 13% increase in mobile phone payments as compared to the same period last month, and a 16% increase in terms of the amount paid.
  • Loans: There was a 12% increase in loan payments as compared to the same period last month, and a 13% increase in terms of the amount paid.
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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

Most Americans Used Stimulus Checks To Pay Bills
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