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Why Do We Even Carry Cash Anymore? – Debit Cards=The Future Of Finance.

While driving through the drive-thru at a fast food joint this week, a thought occurred to me. As I handed over dollar bills to pay for my cheeseburger, I started wondering, “Why do I even carry cash anymore?” Although this may sound like a bizarre question to be asking myself, there is some truth in it. Today’s society is moving more and more towards simplicity, and even though cash is simple, it’s not the simplest form of payment out there anymore. Instead, society is moving towards debit cards, also known as check cards. The reason why is pretty simple, because there are a lot of benefits to carrying a debit card:

1) All you have to carry is a single card – Unlike cash where you have to go to ATM’s or banks every once in a while to refill on cash, and unlike credit cards where you have to be approved for a specific limit and then repay the money at a later date anyways, debit cards allow you to pay right then and there and only carry one card to and from places.

2) Online banking has made money management simple – With easy access to the internet available for a large percentage of the population, and debit transactions being processed nearly everyday by each business, people can check how much money they have available easily. Unless you’re a person who carries only cash, chances are you have a savings or checking account in addition to the cash, and thus, you have to keep track of multiple sources of finances to determine how much money you have.

3) Most places accept debit cards – Although some places do not accept specific types of credit cards or checks from out of state, nearly every place nowadays will accept debit cards. If you reach your limit with a credit card, you get an error and have to pay in a different way. With a debit card instead, if you overdraw, the penalty comes to you from your bank after-the-fact, creating even more simplicity. Monthly bills often offer a payment plan that withdraws automatically from your checking account, taking away the need for checks. Even most bars nowadays accept debit cards, meaning you can create a tab and not have to worry about carrying enough cash on a specific night.

4) Theft is less of a concern – If you are robbed (which hopefully will never happen), and you’re carrying cash, it’s typically gone for good. However, if you are robbed and carrying debit/credit cards, all you have to do is call your bank/credit card and cancel those cards, telling the authorities that it was stolen. Although identity theft is more prevalent when you’re carrying things other than cash, if you act quickly after realizing your cards are gone, this too can be limited or avoided.

These are just a few of the positives to carrying debit cards over cash, which helps to explain why so many people in today’s society, especially younger generations, are tending to carry an ID and a debit card in their wallet rather than checks or cash.

Post by Tom L Michaels, who is the owner and creator of HeardAtTheOffice.com. Have you ever heard something out of context in the office that made you burst out in laughter? Made you want to tell someone what was said, even though it may be inappropriate for you to do so at work? If so, go to www.heardattheoffice.com and post those memorable quotes for others just like you to read and laugh about. Or follow on Twitter – @heardatoffice.


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Comments (13)

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  1. Pamela says:

    Well one good reason is if you only carry cash and shop with cash you can only spend what you have. No overspending!

  2. jdp says:

    Not a very responsible thing to push. Some cash or a couple accounts in NO way linked to each other is a bare minimum.

    Ask my friends who lost all their $ and were stuck trying to figure out how to buy groceries while everything was frozen waiting for the bank to sort through the action on their accounts, damage done by a hijacked card number (NOT a stolen card hence no warning until account issues surfaced) being used to fuel a cross country trip.

    A small cash stash or savings account not linked to other accounts and pretty much kept the old fashioned way (not online) should be a fall back safeguard for even the most plastic loving people.

  3. Craig says:

    I have been using my debit card more and more for purchases. it allows me to see online exactly what I spent so I can budget. I still like having cash around because paying with debit card is sometimes too easy and could get me in trouble.

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  6. Annie Jones says:

    I almost never have cash on me…not even a dollar or two. I do everything via debit card, unless I am planning to go to garage sales (have to have cash for those).

    I like having a record, in addition to my receipts, of every transaction I make. Unlike many people, I spend less with my debit card than I do when I have cash. Cash just runs through my fingers like water. I’m probably hyper-vigilant about what I spend via debit, looking over the online banking transactions every day or so.

    But as jdp above recommends, my husband and I do have our savings easily accessible and in a bank entirely different from the bank where we have our checking account. Just in case.

  7. Edwin says:

    I use debit for nearly every purchase I make. I also carry around $20 in cash just incase. One thing to be careful of is insane overdraft fees if you are close to 0 on your account you might end up paying quite a bit for overdrafts.

  8. ctreit says:

    The difference between using actual dollar bills and debit/credit cards is really not that big. One is a piece of paper which has some print on it that makes us believe it is worth more than the paper itself. The other is a piece of plastic that does the same thing except that it does not tell us how much we should believe it is worth.

  9. I would be a little leery of this advice. I don’t know it for a fact, but I have heard that a lot of banks do NOT cover losses by a stolen debit card.

    I have also heard that it IS possible to overspend on a debit card–that sometimes even when your account shows no money, the bank still runs the charge thru and then kills you with fees.

    I carry a debit card only in the event that I need cash and don’t have it—-parking at sporting events, going places where using an ATM itself incurs fees, etc. For the rest, I still use credit.

    Last I heard there are no debit cards out there with a 1% cash back feature.

  10. Austin says:

    There’s an interesting article over at fivecentnickel about the very opposite advice!

    http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2009/12/02/is-it-time-for-cash-to-make-a-comeback/

  11. Mint.com is really easy to use if your using your card exclusively.

  12. Nat says:

    Watch out where security is concerned. The limit on liability for a stolen credit card is typically $50, so long as it’s reported in a timely fashion. Even charges made before it is reported will be limited by this ceiling. Typically, the limit of liability for a stolen debit card is $500 – and that might start counting after it is reported stolen – meaning 100% liability for any charges made before you report it, even if you can prove you didn’t make the purchases. (So you’d have to find the thief and go to small claims, or deal with the individual merchants, rather than just your bank.)

    I believe these are the federal minimum standards, so states or your bank can have lower limits or more generous policies. But don’t count on it – check out the fine print, or ask appropriate gov’t types before you run into this. [Luckily, my one stolen wallet the thieves were some highschoolers who chickened out before using the cards. But not until after I’d had to find all this out and get very worried.]

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