Back in my teens and early twenties, Mom used to yell at me about not carrying enough cash. She envisioned me running out of gasoline and not being able to get home. At the time, I didn’t have credit cards so it was a valid concern. Either I would be walking or using my last quarter in the pay phone to call home and beg someone to come get me.
As an adult, I use both cash and credit as well as checks. If I buy anything online, I use credit. My reasoning is that there is at least some protection if the item or service ordered is not what was advertised or in the end is not provided. I do use cash mainly for transactions of $50 or less as I don’t like to carry around a lot of loot (except when on vacation)!
Here are the reasons I use cash.
There is no chance for your personal information to be stolen.
With the rash of data breaches at some of the major retailers in the past years, consumers are becoming more wary of flashing their debit and credit cards at brick and mortar stores when they could be using cash.
You probably will spend less.
If you know you can only buy up to the limit of cash you are carrying, you will be more careful about what you are buying.
Your purchases cannot be easily traced.
Unless you provide the store with a store card to identify you and what you are buying, your purchases are not traceable back to you. There is so little privacy left in the world today that some of us like to hang onto the little bits we still have.
Sometimes you get cash discounts.
Occasionally merchants will discount the price because they don’t have to pay the credit card fees on your purchase. Gas stations, some hotels, some restaurants are examples of places you might negotiate a cash discount.
Cash is almost universally accepted.
In 2008-2009 when we had the credit crunch and recession, there was at least one day when stores were not accepting credit. That day the entire credit system nearly collapsed. If you didn’t have cash to spend that day, you may well have been stranded out of gas.
You’ll never be declined when using cash.
Some places do not accept credit cards.
We took a day trip to a small town in our area several years ago with our grown son and daughter-in-law. Because we drove, they were going to treat us to lunch. They had no cash. There was no convenient ATM. We bought lunch. Granted that didn’t act in our favor because we ended up paying, but my point is that we were able to get what was needed so we didn’t go hungry.
There are no transaction fees.
If you use your debit card, and sometimes even if you use a check, you are charged a transaction fee by your bank. There are no fees with cash. Of course this assumes that you didn’t run up fees at the ATM machine getting the cash! I always just go into my bank to get it.
You won’t have to pay for something later that you already used up.
This is a big one for me. When I charge things, sometimes I lose track of how much is on my credit card balance, bringing an uncomfortable surprise at my statement closing. I hate paying for things like dinners out or gasoline weeks after I have eaten or used up the gas. When I was first married, my spouse was in the army. We lived off base and he drove in each day. At the time Army pay was about $2,000 a YEAR. Each month, when he got paid, most of it went to pay off the gasoline credit card charges.
Using cash is seems tougher psychologically.
Negotiators have long known that if you offer someone cash on the barrelhead, they may be more likely to accept less for an item. Conversely, if you are shelling out bills to buy something, it seems hard than sliding that plastic.
Lots of folks still use cash.
According to a survey (the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice) done in late 2012 done by the Federal Reserve banks and reported in Cash Continues to Play a Key Role in Consumer Spending: Evidence from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice cash is the most used retail payment method.
The article says:
“Not only is cash a very different payment instrument than checks, but consumers choose to use cash more frequently than any other payment instrument, including debit or credit cards. Cash plays a dominant role for small-value transactions, is the leading payment instrument for many types of purchases, and stands as the key alternative when other options are not available. In certain cases, including that of mostly lower-income consumers who lack access to alternative payment options or find them too costly or difficult to obtain, cash is also used for relatively larger-value transactions .”
When do you use cash vs debit or credit or check or other payment methods?