I don’t know about you, but I hate cash. I find it dirty, I don’t like the fact that I need to wash my hands after holding it, or that I feel dirty if I can’t. I don’t like the weight in my pockets or in my purse, I don’t like that you never know exactly how much you have unless you keep a strict tally, so you can lose it, someone can steal it from you, or it can become useless because you forgot your bill in the washing machine.
We have a pretty strong cash system in France. Big companies will accept your card for small amounts, even under a euro, while most small businesses will ask you to pay any amount under 10 or 15 euros in cash. If you go out, you will need cash for the bar, cash for the restaurant, and cash for the cab ride home. In the UK you can pay a cab ride with a card, and most small businesses will accept any amount paid by card, which I find fascinating.
I just came back from Miami and it was the same. I left Guatemala with $480 in cash and at the end of the holiday I had $400, mainly because I put gas in the car in cash, as the machine won’t recognize a UK postcode when you swipe your card and have to enter it. Apart from that and a $0.35 photocopy where I got almost yelled at for trying to pay with a fiverr and was sent looking for $1 bills, I don’t think I ever had to pay cash for anything.
It was so nice, after months in Guatemala where only the supermarket will take cash (and other small businesses, for a 5% surcharge, no thanks).
For me, paying with a card has so many advantages:
It is easy. You swipe the card, and that’s it. You wouldn’t believe how long it took the photocopy lady to give me my $0.65 back in coins.
It is convenient. When you log in to your online banking, all the transactions are neatly stored and ready for you to check. Do you remember what you did with your last $20 bill? Software like Mint will upload the transactions instantly in your budget management program.
It is safe. You have a purchase protection on your card if something goes wrong. You have a proof of purchase for the guarantee. You even have a full reimbursement if your card is cloned and used by someone else. That happened to me once and the bank paid back in a week. No one will give you your stolen cash back.
You don’t need change. In Guatemala, I had a $0.4 bill. I paid for $0.3 cookies. The shopkeeper had to go to the neighbor’s to get some change. I try to always have small denominations so I avoid waiting for my change, but it happens here and there and I hate waiting for nothing.
Credit card churning. Sadly, my card doesn’t offer miles or cash back, if yours does, it is a great way to get free rewards.
Insurance. My card does come with travel insurance if I buy a flight with it. It has rental car insurance if I pay the car with it, which saved me $150 on the last trip to Miami. If the flight is late, the card will cover your meals and if your bag doesn’t show up, there is an allowance to buy clothes and toothpaste while it arrives.
It is clean. In my town, most women don’t have a purse and keep the cash in their bra, while they sweat all day. Even with normal behavior, cash is pretty dirty. What I don’t like is going to a fast food, paying with cash, and having to wash my hands again before eating while my meal gets cold. With a card, I can wash hands before ordering.
Peace of mind. When I travel, I often have more cash on me, just in case I can’t use the card. But every time I get out of the hotel room, I can either leave the cash in the room and come back worried the cleaners stole it, or keep it on me and worry I will get mugged or my bag stolen. A card gives me more peace of mind.
However, cash could be good too.
If you need to limit your spending. I just spent $2,000 mostly in shopping during the past two weeks in Miami. I knew it would be an expensive trip and was fine even with a bigger amount but I had no idea how much I had spent until I got home and crunched the numbers. If you don’t know how to manage your money, withdraw what you can afford to spend in cash and when it is gone, that’s it. It is easier to go over budget swiping a card.
It hurts. Spending cash psychologically hurts more than swiping your card. So you think about it twice before making a purchase.
You may get a discount. The same way people in my town add an extra 5% to pay by card, some businesses will agree to a small discount if you pay cash. Sometimes, it is not worth the trouble. But if you are already on site and ask for a cash discount, people may oblige.
What do you think, cash or no cash?
I’m totally a credit card convert.
By using reward credit cards, we have taken flights, free hotels and found cash back in our account. I’ve never experienced such benefits by spending cash!
Also, we are just starting “stoozing”, but its too early to see if that is as truly awesome as it appears! 🙂
What is stoozing? Also which is the best card for you for flights and hotel nights?
Snoozing is using 0% balance transfer or 0% purchases over extended periods and investing that money at non 0% returns. If managed correctly, it’s effectively free money…
At the moment, we are using avois duo rewards card which provides points which we usually use on flights between UK home and FR home.
Kasey @ Debt Perception says
I definitely prefer using a card. I just wish my husband was better at sticking to a budget using a card.
We use our cards for ~99% of all our payments as well. It really is so much more convenient.
I wish I had that proportion but in Guatemala it is more like 10%…
It makes it tougher when you don’t see the money but maybe checking accounts every week would help him know where he stands?
Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life says
I’ve been using my credit card a lot more lately. It really is such an easy way to go about in life. And you should definitely get a credit card with rewards, it pays off after even just a few uses. I love the cash back features!
I know, but 95% of my spending is abroad and reward credit cards charge a high fee abroad, so a 0% foreign transaction card works best for me. I’d love free hotel nights though!
Canadian Budget Binder says
Mostly we both use credit cards and debit only if we have to. We don’t make special trips to the bank for cash as it’s just as easy to use a credit card plus earn rewards points.
It took me over a year to get a debit card here. So far I had to QUEUE at the bank with my savings booklet to withdraw cash, it was a real pain. Cards rock.
NZ Muse says
I LOATHE cash. Easy to lose. Hard to track.
Still, points to NZ for plastic bills, at least you can wash them 🙂
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says
I wish I could pay my rent with a credit card and my parents talk about wishing they could pay my brother’s college tuition with a card- imagine all the points!
Tuition would be huge! Some big companies owning real estate or public buildings will allow a credit card payments for rent but they are pretty rare.