I was in the local mini-supermarket a couple of Sundays ago. In front of me was a man who bought a single bag of crisps with his debit card – and got £50 cashback. The lady behind the till told me there had been plenty of others that morning doing the same thing. There isn’t a single cash machine in our high street which is accessible on a Sunday. There is one inside the Nationwide and one in a shop which, like the building society branch, doesn’t open on Sundays. I could get cash out from the post office but that doesn't open on a Sunday either. So anyone who needs cash on a Sunday has to get cashback.
But do you actually need cash? After all, in these days of contactless cards then all we have to do is swipe away. I don’t know about you but I still need notes and coins. The man with the fruit and veg stall doesn’t have a card machine, after all. And even if he and every other merchant or service provider took cards, I’d still miss cash.
If you are trying to budget, it is so much easier to do it if you leave your cards at home when you shop and take cash instead. I can all too easily forget about spending I’ve made on cards. This is particularly the case for credit cards when the gap between the spending and the bill needing to be paid can be many weeks apart. But if I take out a fistful of notes then I’m aware of how much I’m shelling out. I keep a rough tally of how much my basket or trolley is going to cost before I get to the till. As long as my estimate comes in as less than I’ve got in cash, then I’m fine. If it did go over then I guess I could get the cashier to take something off but I’ve never had to do this yet.
I’m not alone in being a cash fan. A report out this week says that more than eight million UK adults would ‘struggle to cope in a cashless society’. The Access to Cash Review (funded by cash machine network Link) says that companies and essential services should have to carry on taking cash. Last year, payments by debit card overtook cash for the first time but the report says that 2.2 million people use cash for all their day to day transactions.
And cash machines are becoming rarer: Which? says that 300 are closing every month in the UK. And while you may not have the hassle of remembering a PIN with contactless cards I think lots of people don’t like it. Apart from the worry of accidentally swiping, it’s even easier to forget a transaction if you haven’t tapped in a code. Long live cash, I say: I might be a dinosaur but at least I know how to budget thanks to my purse full of coins and notes.
And see our guides to credit cards here