Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say, “Cash is king,” according to new Empower research

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say, “Cash is king,” according to new Empower research

While a quarter of Americans say rising rates have influenced where they store their cash, other economic factors like regional bank failures and congressional debt have had little effect    

Greenwood Village, COLO – August 15, 2023 — “Cash is king,” according to nearly 1 in 5 of Americans (17%) who prefer the minimal risk and convenience of cash — and rising interest rates may prove some savers right, according to new research from Empower, a leader in planning, investing and advice.  Soaring rates and yields for high interest accounts, including Empower Personal Cash™ now offering 4.70% APY, are driving a quarter (22%) of U.S. adults to stash more.1

Only a quarter of savers say inflation (26%) influenced their approach to holding their money in a cash account. Additionally, this year’s regional bank failures had little impact on cash savings for the vast majority (73%), though 16% say it prompted them to keep more on hand.

Almost a third (28%) of respondents say they feel safer when they keep money in cash. The median cash allocation for users of the Empower Personal DashboardTM is $67,390, making up more than 26% of users’ overall portfolio. That’s an increase of 15% in cash holdings over the same period last year ($58,394 in 2022), perhaps driven in part by a volatile market and threat of recession. A sign that times may be changing, Gen Z survey respondents were six times more likely than Boomers to have all their money invested in the market, though striking the right investment balance remains key.

“If you have any significant amount of money sitting idle in a low-interest account, it could actually be losing money,” says Paul Deer, CFP®, Vice President at Empower. “Cash accounts have their place in a diversified financial strategy, but if your cash is in an account offering a yield lower than the current rate of inflation, your money could lose buying power over time.”

Yielding a higher return

When it comes to choosing a savings account, more than 1 in 4 Americans (26%) say they’re seeking the best yield to get the most bang for their buck, yet half (49%) admit to using the same bank that handles their checking account or base their choice on the convenience of physical locations (32%). Deer says, “Consumers may be under-utilizing the power of compound interest and passive income offered by online accounts, which often can pass overhead cost savings back to customers in the form of higher annual yields.”

Empower Personal Cash™ is a high-yield cash account with no account minimums, no fees, and flexible deposits and transfers. “This type of account does more than just stash cash; it helps users earn while having the flexibility to access their money,” says Deer.

Other key findings:

  • Counting cash: More than half of respondents (55%) defined cash as more than physical money, including traditional savings accounts, high yield cash accounts, and money market accounts.
  • Cashing in: One item Americans can’t leave home without? Cold hard cash. Americans are more likely to carry physical cash (69%) than Chapstick (31%), mints (20%) and a checkbook (17%). The two biggest reasons people keep money on hand include emergencies (55%) and tipping (26%).
  • Dollars and sense: Yet, when it comes to checking out, one third of people say they rarely pay with dollar bills (21% less than monthly, 13%, never) and 40% say they never use a checkbook. Instead, the majority are frequently (weekly or more) using debit or credit cards (77%). Several frequently pay with digital payment platforms like Zelle or Venmo (34%) and apps with preloaded funds (21%) like Starbucks. Over one third (39%) say they pay with rewards program points at least once a month.
  • Saving for spending: Among Americans saving up for big purchases, the most popular method of saving is often stashing cash in traditional savings accounts: dream vacation (31%), a new car (31%) a down payment on a home (27%) and a wedding (26%).

The full report can be found on The Currency™.

Visit to learn more about its free financial tools and Empower Personal Cash.


Empower contracted Morning Consult to conduct an online survey of 2,200 adults July 20-23, 2023 and the data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. For this survey, “cash” is defined as any physical currency, checking, or savings accounts. Not included are investment accounts and non-liquid assets.


Empower, a leader in financial planning, investing, and advice, is dedicated to creating financial freedom through people and technology. It administers approximately $1.3 trillion in assets for more than 17 million retirement plan participants and is the nation’s second-largest retirement plan recordkeeper by total participants.2 Connect with us on

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1 Empower Personal Cash™ Program is offered through Empower Personal Wealth, LLC (“Empower”). Empower is not a bank. Bank deposit products provided by UMB Bank n.a., Member FDIC (“UMB”). To participate in the program, you must open an account at UMB, through which your funds will be placed in accounts at participating program banks (which may include UMB). The advertised interest rates are paid by participating program banks, including by UMB in its capacity as a participating program bank. Your funds will be FDIC insured up to applicable limits while in transit through UMB. UMB receives a fee from each program bank (except UMB) in connection with the program that is based on the aggregate daily closing balance of deposits held in program accounts by such program bank. The fee may vary from program bank to program bank and will generally increase as the aggregate amount of funds held in program accounts with the program bank increases.

The Empower Personal Cash™ Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of 8/1/23 is 4.70% APY (4.602% interest rate). The calculation for APY is rounded to the nearest basis point. Both the interest rate and APY are variable and subject to change at UMB’s discretion at any time without notice.

The information provided in your account application is being provided by you to UMB. UMB may share this information with UMB’s affiliates and with EMPOWER, each of which may use this information in accordance with its respective privacy policy. Upon acceptance of the application, an account will be opened with UMB.

2 As of January 31, 2023. Assets under Administration (AUA) refers to the assets administered by Empower pursuant to service contracts, including recordkeeping, for retirement plans and participants, IRAs and other pension accounts. On August 1, 2022, Empower announced that it is changing the names of various companies within its corporate group to align the names with the Empower brand. For more information regarding the name changes, please visit

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