/ Money

Do you still carry cash?


Do you still pay for most things in cash or do you find yourself relying more and more on contactless or chip and Pin cards?

In November, the ATM industry body warned that 10,000 free cashpoints could disappear from Britain’s high streets within four years, with usage apparently falling.

Many of you shared concerns about losing free-to-use cash machines, and I was certainly one of them – being charged to access your own money just doesn’t sit right. In our poll, an overwhelming 82% of you agreed, saying you would never pay to withdraw money.

Visiting the cashpoint

While I’m fully against cashpoints that charge to withdraw, all this did get me thinking about how often I actually withdraw cash from one.

It then dawned on me that I only really visit a cashpoint once a week – on my way to play football for my Saturday team.

The only way to pay the referee after a game is in cash. The pitch also needs paying for, and what’s left over the club uses to buy everyone a drink in the pub after the game.

It costs £10 for a home game (£5 if you only end up playing a half) and £7 for an away game. And as myself and the teammates I share a lift with rarely have any cash on us, we have to drive to the game via a cashpoint to get out our subs.

Sorting out the cash in the changing room after a game can also feel like a dated affair, as most of the team hands over notes and the person in charge of collecting the subs never has enough loose change to give back. Oh, for a contactless card reader! Still, I’m not expecting refs to come equipped with these any time soon.

Contactless generation

For me, my teammates and other friends of a similar age (around 28, if you’re wondering), contactless cards have completely revolutionised our spending habits.

None of us really like to carry too much cash simply because there’s hardly anything that we really need it for on a day-to-day basis: we can buy most things by placing our contactless cards on a reader or, failing that, by entering our Pin.

But could this be a generational thing? While many in my age group don’t seem to carry cash at all, it’s a completely different story for my dad – I don’t think he’s ever used his card to make a contactless payment!

Do you still carry cash on a regular basis? If so, what do you use it for? Do you prefer using it to contactless payments or a chip and Pin card?


I use all available methods of payment, but always carry cash. There are places and occasions where cash has to be used. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned surveillance. Electronic payments leave a trail of who you are, where you are, what you do, what you buy. That’s valuable information for commercial and even political exploitation. Cash leaves no record.

I always carry cash and use it for shopping as it is the cheapest way to shop. If you spend up then shopping stops but the facility of cards of all kinds seriously contributes to the vast amounts of debt people in this country have accumulated over the last few years. The person who askes if it is a generational thing is right. We older folk to whom cards have been a later development only had access to cash or cheques as we grew up but younger people have grown up seeing the use of cards of all kinds as the norm and it is convenient at times.

Couldn’t agree with you more. Age doesn’t prevent me from being IT-savvy enough to be horrified at the creeping invasion of personal privacy by political and commercial interests. It’s got so bad it’s becoming a “Habeus Corpus” issue. And you’re right – small businesses are balking at the fees they have to pay for card payment services and in my locality I’m increasingly finding that it’s cash only for my weekly fish and chips or take-away curry. If it’s not cash, it’s a cheque that’s preferred to a card payment by local tradesmen and it’s not because they’re on a tax dodge, either. If the big banks want to close branches and remove ATMs they should be made to guarantee access to cash to their customers, as some are already doing by linking up with the Post Office. Sooner or later the alternative banking sector, too, should wake up the fact that there will always be a demand for cash – you’ve only got to look at the millions of transactions taking place on platforms like eBay that are for “cash on collection”. It’s not because they’re part of the black economy, it’s because they’re hassle-free.

As one of the older generation( 1930) I always like to have a bit of cash in my pocket. Mainly for small shops- who cannot afford the high charges of the credit card companies( don’t forget WE pay in the long run)-and some charity shops. S’markets, petrol, etc., I use credit card ( pin or touch) as it’s so easy. Unlike Ed, I’m not worried about people knowing where I am or what I buy- they won’t get very fat from me! Dave

I mainly use cash but sometimes a debit card,some shops restaurants markets,carboots fetes fairs don’t accept cash it’s easier booking a hotel/ holiday with a card,it’s all sorted when you arrive no looking for a room with luggage ATMs mean you can withdraw money easily and when the bank is shut

Definitely cash for me as I don’t remember what I spend small amounts on and can lose track of spending. It also avoids the tedious job of checking statements. Younger people I know don’t even bother checking! With cash you can take out £x and when its gone its gone (unless you make decision to get some more out). I pay cash for most things when I can, especially day to day and evenings out, it’s simply a lot easier to manage finances.

I very rarely use cash these days.

I’ve also been on the banking merry-go-round for several years now, but only been using contactless payments for the last two or three years.

I don’t mind the method, but I’ve had several problems.

I’ve been told that with some banks the contactless payments appear and debit from your account immediately, but I’ve yet to experience this.

I still find they appear and debit on my statement later and in some cases haven’t even had the date that the payment was actually made.

This has led to problems when disputing historic payments with retailers and in one particular case when my card was stolen and I disputed transactions.

It’s a good method if it works but it doesn’t so I still prefer chip and pin and the accuracy of the transactions that come with it.

No! Cash is completely pointless and it’s about time we all moved on. Electronic transactions are convenient and keep your money safer (I lose things a lot, so I’m a liability with cash). Also, I like making contactless payments using my mobile phone because I don’t have to carry all my cards around. However, I find I shop online more often than in store, for which you need to pay electronically.

Many people feel strongly that carrying cash helps them spend less as they’re only spending what they have in their wallet, but I disagree. I find tracking my finances easier and more effective when using my debit card. My banking app updates instantly, giving me a record of what I’m spending. I don’t need to keep records or receipts. Using my debit card only, with no overdraft, means I don’t overspend either – I’m still only spending the money I have.

You are entitled to do what you want, Lauren, but why say that we should all do the same?

I suggest you keep a little cash handy for when the technology lets you down or you see a sign saying ‘Cash only’. There are a few more since the ban on card surcharges.

What about remote locations that don’t accept cards? A cafe, say – on the edge of a cliff, miles from anywhere?

I remember when I worked for a bank – actually it was my last day – and they had a complete system shut down (not sure what the actual phrase they used was). It started with the computers, we couldn’t access accounts so we advised people to use the ATMs. Then online banking shut down. Eventually so did cards. It lasted for about 6 hours, which is a LONG time for people who were stranded, unable to buy train tickets or withdraw money for taxis home.

Of course this is very rare, but having spare cash could have saved a lot of people trouble.

So…was it planned as your last day, then? 🙂

It’s interesting that someone who admits to having a tendency to lose things feels they can advise the rest of us on how to conduct our daily business! Cash pointless? Not so.

I use electronic payments but I also like using money that I can see and feel.

Incidentally, a receipt tells me much more than how much I have spent and where, so for important purchases they are worth keeping and for some purchases they contain the warranty.

Sorry, I was very flippant there. I didn’t mean to cause any offence – I was just contributing what works for me and certainly not telling anyone how to manage their money, so sorry if it came across that way!

Glad to have kept the debate going, it’s been interesting to read everyone’s comments 🙂

Don’t worry, Lauren. It’s that John Ward – always looking for trouble, that one…


@lmerryweather, Lauren, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a strong view known in a Convo. A Convo works best when a wide range of views are expressed, some maybe provocatively (in a nice sense) and responded to.

Welcome to the safety valve for the sane. I have, very very occasionally, expressed a view a little firmly, and received an occasional thumb, or sometimes mild disapproval. I think my skin has thickened slightly. Life is too short to really care. 🙂

As financial fraud gets more sophisticated, I no longer trust using my debit card for purchases.

There are enough problems with fraud on credit cards so why give potential thieves and scammers access to your bank account.

By paying with credit card, there is a very good layer of protection and a chance of recompense, if your bank account gets cleaned out, you will probably get nothing back.

F Bennett says:
6 March 2019

When all local shops along with the high street have disappeared because there are people, like you who shop online all the time, there will be no need for cash. But! Remember the price we will have to pay.
Sometimes older people only go into a shop to speak to someone as they have no one else.
That may be you or me one day 😥
Also online shopping prices will increase as they will not have to be competitive because there are no shops
I could name a dozen reasons to keep cash and shops.

I think any cashless payment – card particularly – encourages purchasing something when if you had to put the cash together might lead you to think harder about whether you really needed it, or could afford it.
It seems clear from all the convos that have looked at payments that all have their place – credit cards (best used responsibly), debit cards, cheques and…..cash. I play bowls and a match game costs £2; should a small club need to have a card machine to deal with this? The raffle is £1. Credit card? No thanks. I’ve just put 50p in a parking meter. Do I want to see a whole list of these to check on my bank or card statement each month? My kids want to borrow some money to go out; do I transfer it into their card account or give them a £20 note?

Cash is useful, even essential, for many purchases, particularly small ones, and I predict it will stay with us. I don’t want to become dependent on a card company, nor on electronic systems that could crash – or be crashed.

That sums up my position, Malcolm.

I sometimes pick up the regional newspaper from a street vendor for 95p; I have a feeling she is not going to install a contactless payment device and I am not going to hang about making an on-line payment by phone. The newspaper seller has a tin of 5p coins for change. Cash is actually incredibly quick.

…and can be contactless,if you drop it into the box…

F Bennett says:
6 March 2019

It is also an expense for small businesses to take cards (yes that includes debit cards) and the money doesn’t get transferred to the retailer for 3/4 days and I know it comes out of our account immediately. Unless it’s contactless!! and that’s causing problems because people on low incomes check at the ATM how much they have, contactless don’t show up for a couple of days and then said person thinks they have more than they have, go overdrawn and pay charges that they can’t afford. We need to keep cash. Can’t spend what you don’t have

Gill Evans says:
6 February 2018

I always carry cash as the pubs I visit do not use card systems, & many small shops & some (most?) market stalls avoid card payments altogether, or restrict them to over £5. I find the instant card payments quick & handy in bigger stores, but if there is an inherent risk to it, it should be made very public.

There are many times when I go into a shop to buy a single item, like a pasty or sausage roll and always need cash. Many shops are unhappy to take card payments for small amounts.

Heather says:
12 February 2018

If I had to pay for everything by card I’d get into debt very quickly – when I have withdrawn cash and use it, I know how much I have left. I am nearly 70 years old and it’s not easy to change ways that have worked for a lifetime.

Quick and easy; just touch or tap. Cash is redundant now. ☺

My grandchildren have not yet got their credit card readers so, for now, they’ll have to rely on real pocket money.

Cash is useful for places such as the small restaurant where I go often as she cannot afford to have a machine for cards and I guess there are plenty of similar places.. Neither can many market stall holders of which there are many all over the UK. I cannot see anyone’s gardener having a machine, nor some window cleaners. Can you let small children have a card for buying sweets? No. We still need cash and will do so for a great length of time yet.

I am one of the older people who needs cash to pay for the small items that cost less than£1. I do have & use 3 credit cards but keep a record of every spend as I have a very limited income & there are still a lot of people Young & old who do the same as me.I have had 1 of my credit cards hacked 3 times so dont trust the system & my branch of my bank was shut! KEEP CASH!!!!

6 March 2019

I use cash for over 90% of my purchases, only using a card for online purchases. I will not buy from places which are cashless. I think there should be legislation in place to ensure that cash must continue to be accepted everywhere.

I use cash but a lot less than i used to. Sometimes there is no other method of payment which will do the job.
But my main reason for preserving the access to cash for all is that the banks keep coming up with new improved methods of banking and psying for us but BEFORE they have thought through the possible problems that might arise. Who ends up paying in these circumstances? Its always the customer. We must thetefore always have the option to return or stay with whst works for us. Protection against paying the wrong payee is a good example. The toothless regulator is worse than useless.

Carole says:
6 March 2019

I like to carry cash credit and debit cards too. I only use the cards if I spend more cash than I intended to. How can I treat my grandchildren to some spending money with a debit / credit card ? I will always want to have access to cash 💴

Fred says:
6 March 2019

As a TSB customer who had the joy of an updated banking platform which was to take 2 Days to complete !!!
I could at least use my Debit Card to pay for my shopping ( Person in front of me at Iceland could not and also banked with TSB). I could not log into my account for 10 days after the switch of platform.
But could get an account balance if i went to a TSB branch. Nearest one was 6 miles away from my house in the middle of Newcastle Upon Tyne….. how long was that queue if you were prepared to wait in it on a work day!! I had no idea if my DD and SOs had been paid or if my wages were actually in the bank (bills were paid and wages were credited to my account). But 10 Days of uncertainty not nice. For some small businesses this lasted weeks or Months – read the reports.
Please note i did take £200 cash out ASAP on Monday after just in case.

Lionel says:
6 March 2019

I believe it’s vital to be able to be able to use cash for small items like newspapers,magazines a coffee etc. Also many car parks only accept cash. But of more importance those people who cannot or do not want to join the cashless society should be able to carry on being able to withdraw cash from ATMs and banks. I think that many of us who are quite happy to use digital means of paying would realise what we have lost if we finish up with no access to cash.

Carole Rothwell says:
6 March 2019

There is a need for both, having spent half my life using cash and cheques and keeping a careful eye on both, I can’t imagine not having cash and would feel very vulnerable just seeing my money on a computer screen. The main fear I have is my cash being accessed by dishonest people or our government (who have been doing lots of things I don’t like lately) suddenly deciding to take my cash for one of their projects or if there was a war we would have no say. Many people would NOT be able to cope,