/ Money

Your view: paying with cash or plastic

Credit cards

We reported on new BRC research that cash is the most popular way to pay in UK shops. You told us why that doesn’t always ring true for you, and how much you value your credit and debit cards.

Cash can be cumbersome, weighing down our wallets and pockets. But the British Retail Consortium found that half of all UK shop transactions were made in cash last year. We asked if you have a preference when it comes to paying up.

William would much rather flex his plastic to keep money in his account for longer:

‘I tend to use my credit card for every purchase going. Something about earning interest on that money for as long as possible, although nowadays there’s hardly any interest to be had. And I have a direct debit setup to pay it off in full every month.’

But using a debit or credit card isn’t always an option, as Wavechange found:

‘I use several companies that don’t have card facilities and prefer cheques or cash. Most are small businesses, but one is a city centre branch of a national copying and printing company. They are always happy to send out an invoice, so anyone who turns up without cash or cheques will not be disappointed. Very quaint, but very helpful too.’

Plastic peace of mind

Many people use their credit cards for extra protection in case things go wrong, like John Ward:

‘I use cash in small shops or for small purchases, a debit card for consumables, and a credit card (or store card where applicable) for major purchases, permanent articles, online purchases, and anything where I want the Section 75 protection.’

Figgerty also gets peace of mind when paying by card:

‘I use credit cards for higher value items and for flights and holidays. I get an extra year’s warranty on TVs and kitchen appliances, etc. when I pay for them using my Nationwide credit card.’

Credit cards can even reward you for spending. NFH explained how debit card users lose out:

‘My points, airmiles and cashback are subsidised by those who pay by debit card. I don’t understand why people pay by debit card, as it costs them 100% of the transaction amount instead of paying 99% with a 1% cashback credit card.’

Keeping tabs on spending

Paying with a card can help you keep track of your finances. Richard likes to stay up to date:

‘I always pay by credit card if possible – because I can follow all purchases online. This gives a better idea and record of my daily finances, rather than paper receipts that can get lost (First Direct is brilliant for this).’

When Alwyn Maynard had to live without a debit card, it had a big financial impact, earning them our Comment of the Week:

‘The chip was falling out of my debit card, so I ordered a new one. In the meantime, I have had to go to the bank and withdraw money as and when it is required, using my driving licence for ID. This method of financial management has already seen me have £200 more money than I would have usually at this time of the month. Is this because having a debit card in your hand increases the likelihood that you’ll impulse buy stuff?’

Every payment method seems to have its benefits and drawbacks, but which one works best for you? Do you feel more secure with credit cards or is cash more convenient?


Of course the stores having to pay the credit card companies a significant percentage of the ticket price should not weigh with me as it is up to small traders to fight on their own behalf against lower High St. footfall and internet traders – particularly Amazon who only have to pay a fraction to the card companies.

The idea that you could get a cash payment discount similar to which they pay the card companies I recall meant being thrown out of the card scheme – is this still true?