Cash is King , Card is Queen? Who is correct in the great battle of cash vs. credit card? There are various financial philosophies about the virtues of carrying cash around or the power of using a credit card.

Here are some reasons to carry cash.

1.Cash Only Establishments

There are still places that use only cash, yes, even in 2015. This especially applies to food trucks and certain lower end food establishments. In those cases, it pays to have some cash on hand.

I have however noticed that with the rise of mobile payment options, many smaller joints are able to process card transactions.

I went to a festival this summer and purchased fried dough with my card! In the past this would have been unheard of. It’s still nice to have cash for those favorite places that aren’t yet on board.

2. Minimum Charge for Credit or Debit Card Purchases in Some Stores

It costs businesses money (in the form of merchant’s fees) to process credit and debit card transactions.

Some small businesses have instituted a minimum charge for card purchases in order to reduce their costs and make credit card purchases worthwhile for them.

If you are buying an $8 item in a store with a $10 minimum purchase and you don’t have cash, you’ll have to purchase something you don’t need in order to bring your transaction total over the minimum. In this case, not having cash has cost you money.

3. Lack of Self Control with Cards

If you are the type of person who feels a disconnect from the fact that you are spending money and creating debt while using plastic, then it makes sense to carry cash.

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There are folks who can easily swipe their cards for a $300 frivolous transaction, but if they had to count out $300 in cold hard cash at the cash register they would think twice.

Our money patterns are very psychological in nature, so you have to pay attention to your habits and triggers and use an approach that suits you.

4. Splitting Bills in Restaurants

When you go out with friends, it’s often quicker and easier when you all have cash to pay your portion of the bill.

We’ve all been out with a large group and experienced the confusion of figuring out the bill, tips etc.

Cash can help to move the transaction along quicker, plus it’s nice to have cash to leave as tips.

5. Paying for Cabs

I know most cab companies accept cards these days, but for some reason I’ve never felt comfortable using cards to pay a taxi fare. Maybe it’s residual fear from the olden days with those little thingamajigs that made a physical impression of your card that this random taxi driver would then store in his cab. Um no thanks.

Even though I’m sure the technology has improved, I just love leaving a cab knowing that I’ve handed over my fare and tip, and my dealings with this person are over.

It also helps in the case of emergencies, such as the time I found myself needing a cab back to my hotel in the Bed-Stuy area of Brooklyn at 4 am (story for another day!). We were glad we had cash because the big cab companies refused to come to our location at that time of night. We had to hail a random “cab” driver ( in quotation because of a phenomenon that exists in NYC). We were glad we had cash because otherwise we would have been stuck.


6. Certain Budgeting Practices

The envelope or jar method involves allocating cash for budget categories to an envelope or jar. Once the money in the envelope is done, there is no more spending in that budget category for that time period.

This works for some people who cannot mentally track their spending, or who overspend when they use cards.

7. When Traveling Internationally

It is often a hassle to locate ATMs and banks in certain countries.

You will likely incur hefty fees when you take money from banks abroad. You might not even be able to, because many credit and debit card companies will flag your card for fraud if it is being used in an unusual location.

For these reasons, I mostly use cash abroad. I may use my card at certain hotel chains and restaurants, but that is the exception rather than the rule for me.

I am not saying you should carry large wads of cash, you have to be prudent. You should also have a couple of cards as emergency back up, but nothing beats the ease of having $USD in a foreign country.

8. In Case of a Complete Societal Meltdown (ha ha!)

I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead and other post-apocalyptic shows. In these extreme stories, there is no resemblance to the society and civilization we know. As a matter of fact, cash might not even matter as all societal rules will have gone out the door.

In the case of societal anarchy, cash would likely be king (in those days before pure survival instincts kick in). Now, a meltdown of those proportions is highly unlikely, but there are more realistic disasters that might occur.


It helps to have a little cash handy when there is a massive winter storm or hurricane that has caused widespread power outages. Having cash when electricity is out and credit card machines are down is quite an advantage. It could be the difference between being able to grab basics such as food and gas and going without.

Wow, I have compiled quite a few reasons for using cash. But wait, not so fast! There are quite a few reasons for using cards as well. My next post will explore reasons for using cards.

What do you prefer to use? Are you a cash maven? Or a card carrying fan? Do you use a hybrid approach?

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