Cash is king this holiday season

About 71.5% of consumers will use cash, checks or debit cards this holiday season versus 28.3% who plan to use credit cards, which is about a 10% decrease from last year and a clear sign that consumers are weaning themselves away from credit cards.

As credit card interest rates climb along with credit card delinquency consumers clearly want to avoid digging an even deeper credit hole.

According to the National Retail Federation's 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2% drop from last year's $705.01. Only 28.3% of shoppers will use credit this year compared to 31.5% a year ago.

"Paying with cash is the best way to add a safety brake during holiday shopping. Studies show that consumers typically spend 12% to 18% less when we use cash for payment. Counting out and handing over cash is a sobering reminder of how much items really cost. It makes you pause and consider if the purchase is really worth your labor," Bill Hardekopf, CEO of and author of The Credit Card Guidebook, told me by e-mail.