How do natives answer the question "How would you like to pay?" When I want to pay with my bank card, sometimes they ask credit or debit? Sometimes they ask Visa or Mastercard? So I now usually say "credit", or "Visa". Does that sound natural? Besides to what you think it's natural to say, what do you think about the following options?

  1. Card?
  2. Bank card?
  3. By card?
  4. With card?
  5. On my/the card?
  6. Credit/Debit (card)
  7. Visa/Mastercard

Additionally, what if you want to pay with cash?

  1. Cash?
  2. By cash?
  • 8
    Natives where? English can be quite different across the globe.
    – J...
    Aug 26, 2018 at 13:35
  • Define "bank card". As far as I know, that either refers to a debit card or a credit card, so it doesn't strike me as an offputting question. But then, I am a US native.
    – Sinjai
    Aug 26, 2018 at 19:54
  • @Strawberry: Answer in answers, not in comments. Comments don't have the quality assurance mechanisms that answers do.
    – V2Blast
    Aug 26, 2018 at 22:39
  • @J... Natives anywhere. I just want to know the right way to say it, as long as it's right somewhere.
    – Qian
    Aug 27, 2018 at 12:52

6 Answers 6


How would you like to pay?

In short, informal interactions, such as with a cashier, it's perfectly fine to respond with one word. Or, you don't need to use a proper sentence with a subject and a verb:

  • Cash
  • Card
  • etc.

If you need to specify, again, you can be brief:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Apple Pay
  • Debit
  • Credit
  • etc.

If you want to use a preposition, you can use with. In my AmE opinion, you cannot use *by with cash or card:

  • With cash
  • With a/my card

This is generally short for I will pay with cash/my card, or in response to "Will you pay with cash or card?"

BrE users are saying "by card" works form them:

  • By card (BrE)

It wasn't mentioned in the OP and I completely forgot, but @JeremyC points out that you can say by check/cheque:

  • By check (AmE)
  • By cheque (BrE)

I think on my card is okay in a few cases:

  • You can charge it on my card.
  • You can put it on my card.

I agree with @J.R. Charge it to my card sounds better to me.

  • 6
    With regards to prepositions, I generally use, "Put it on my card," but, "Charge it to my card."
    – J.R.
    Aug 26, 2018 at 10:12
  • 4
    In 'more than single word' interactions, I'd definitely use the phrase 'by card' [& probably more likely than the other option, 'with'], though I would never use the word 'charge'. I think they may be slight transpondian differences - though not sufficient to be worth a separate answer. Aug 26, 2018 at 10:52
  • 1
    As a Brit, I don't see anything wrong with "pay by card" - though "pay by cash" does sound wrong. Google "pay by card" (in quotes to get the exact phrase) gives many UK hits, including the websites of major companies like British Telecom (BT), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) etc.
    – alephzero
    Aug 26, 2018 at 12:55
  • For the decreasing number of Brits who use cheques to pay, the word is definitely "by".
    – JeremyC
    Aug 26, 2018 at 14:58

The fewer words, the better: "Cash", "Credit", or "Debit". If they want more information, they'll ask. There was a time when they needed to know the type of card, (e.g., Visa or MasterCard), but that's rare today.

  • 2
    I am British. I would invariably add 'please' to any response e.g. 'cash, please'. If I did not, I would feel I was being rude, and so might the shop worker. Usually just 'card please' will be the appropriate response. I don't know if other cultures have this 'politeness' thing as much as we do. Aug 26, 2018 at 10:38
  • I also say 'thank you' after the transaction has been successfully processed. If I am feeling light-hearted, I may gaze at the card terminal in pretended anxiety and gasp "Thank God!" when the word 'Authorised' appears on the little screen. Anything to make the transaction less impersonal. Aug 26, 2018 at 11:09
  • I am British too, but I would never say 'please' here. When I pay, it's me that's doing them the favour! But I do say 'thank you' after the transaction if I'm not feeling especially grumpy.
    – TonyK
    Aug 26, 2018 at 21:17

Honestly, I usually just hold up the card (if I’m going to use it and there’s a terminal I need to use it in), or hand them the card (if I don’t have a terminal) or the cash. No need to say anything, though as stated above, a single word of “card” or “cash” is generally sufficient, and if they need to know more (e.g. credit or debit), they’ll ask. [United States]

  • With some outfits, such as Square, you are limited: They only take Visa and MC, but not debit, discover, Amex. As a Square using vendor, I rattle off that we take cash, email transfer, cheque, visa, mc as a preface to "how would you like to pay" Aug 26, 2018 at 12:53

Depends on the context. People usually say "By card". The merchant also usually doesn't care*, because they'll plug your card in a machine, that reads any of them.

*Sometimes merchants may be unable to support a few cards, such as AMEX. In that case it might be useful to say if yours is a Visa/Mastercard/etc.

  • 2
    In Britain, where the difference between credit and debit cards is of no significance at the point of sale, people just say "Card". "Cash or card?", "Card only" are common expressions to hear or see
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 26, 2018 at 9:53
  • 2
    Your answer doesn't account for the Discover card – which may be important since not all vendors accept it.
    – J.R.
    Aug 26, 2018 at 9:56
  • 1
    In the US you may be asked "credit or debit" when the merchant's register or payment processor makes the distinction something that the cashier has to act on. But this isn't common anymore; most of the time the machine will (or won't) ask you this. Aug 26, 2018 at 21:40
  • @MichaelHampton Agreed. Its rare that a merchant has to figure out which type of card you're using.
    – goelakash
    Aug 27, 2018 at 4:25

The correct answer depends on what question they asked, exactly.

If they ask "How would you like to pay?" you can say something like "cash", or "by credit card", or "debit card, please". Other answers talk about the exact choice of words to use here.

If they ask "Credit or debit?", then you have to use either the word "credit" or the word "debit". This will affect the way that the payment is processed, and the details are a little complicated. It's fine to say "credit" if it's a credit card and "debit" for debit cards. If you'd like more information, try doing a Google search for "Should I say credit or debit?"

Likewise, if they ask "Visa or MasterCard?" (or "What type of card is it?"), then you have to tell them who your card processor is: Visa or Mastercard (or Discover or American Express).

If you're paying by cash and they ask "credit or debit" or "Visa or MasterCard", you can say: "Oh, uh, I've got cash, is that all right?"


Generic Answers Are Usually Better

I will answer from my own perspective as both a consumer and a business owner in the United States. Here, the question is generally asked because the cashier needs to press the right key on a point-of-sale system to prepare the transaction for payment. The generic choices are typically:

  • cash
  • check
  • debit
  • credit

Any of these four are acceptable answers to a generic question from cashiers. However, some point-of-sale systems differentiate between different credit card systems and networks, or have separate readers, PIN pads, or other devices depending on the payment type. If it truly matters, the cashier may ask you “Visa or MasterCard?“, or ask other clarifying questions, so that they know which keys to press on the register. They may also need to know which of their various payment peripherals to present or direct you to.

The various examples you gave all seem like reasonable responses, but are possibly too detailed for most routine transactions. Answering a generic question with more detail is sometimes a polite way to ensure that a less widely-accepted payment method (e.g. American Express, Discover, or Google Pay) will be okay before presenting it, but this is neither required nor expected in most situations.

  • Are cheques still common enough in the US to even be in that list any more? In the UK there hasn't been a high-street retailer that will still take cheques in at least a decade. Aug 27, 2018 at 8:11

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