Nine Reasons you Still Need Cash

by Matt B

I think this is the wrong Cash

I think this is the wrong Cash

In the modern world of electronic everything, it is sometimes nice to know that cash still exists. It may not be around forever (as a regular payment option), but as it stands now, cash is still the most powerful of tools in our increasingly complicated financial world.

Cash is not only a simple and efficient payment option, it may also help you save on certain purchases or in certain situations. Some are blatantly obvious and others fly under the radar. Here are my favorite situations to use cash to your benefit.

Gas Stations

It may be a slight inconvenience to have to actually get out of your car and walk in to the gas station to pay for your fuel, but did you know that in the 80’s people used to have to drive all the way to the Middle East to get gas? How inconvenient is it now?

All kidding aside, using cash to buy gas actually can save you money. Especially on a road trip… If you look carefully, you will notice that the billboard advertising the gas station in 4 exits has two different prices. One is the cash price, and the other is the credit price. You will also notice that gas usually saves 3-7 cents per gallon. If you are filling up, this can easily add up to a dollar or more.


I try at all cost to avoid tipping on credit or debit cards. This method is more a preventative issue than an actual money-saver. You see, I tend to be wary of those restaurant workers who are likely to sneak an extra dollar or two on the tip, thinking that you will not notice it when it posts to your account. Believe me, this happens a lot more than you would think. Servers, bartenders and the like much prefer a cash tip to the electronic kind. It gives them the opportunity to use it right away, and they can claim less on taxes if they “forget” about some of the cash tips from the evening.

Bar Bets

In addition to tipping with cash, bar bets and bets with friends require cash. When is the last time you heard someone make a bet and then tell the winner they would pay-pal them the money? Maybe that day will come eventually, but for now, bring the green. I do not think we will all be carrying credit card authorizing machines anytime soon.

Farmers Market

Ahhh, the Farmers Market. The best place in the area to get inexpensive, great-tasting, and locally grown food. I can not recommend the farmers market enough. But the likelihood of finding a farmers market that takes plastic is not great (but not impossible). Not to mention, if you are using cash, it gives you the bargaining power to try to get even more for less!

Flea Market

Like the Farmers Market, the flea market usually does not have an abundance of credit card machines, or people willing to take them. Always, always, always have cash at the flea market.


It is no secret that electronic “cash” is grossly overspent, especially on credit cards. Using cash to monitor your budget and stifle spending is very easy, in fact, the only downside I can even think of is that it is more difficult to manually track purchases. The envelope budgeting system is also very cash oriented. If you are unfamiliar, just google it. I’m sure you will get thousands of variations of the system.

Cash For Discounts (Groceries, other Commodities)-

Purchasing in bulk, or from smaller businesses can get you cash discounts just for asking. It costs businesses to process electronic transactions, so many are willing to take a few bucks off the sticker price in order to avoid the hassle and cost of said transactions.

Avoid Fraud-

If you have ever had fraud or identity theft issues, you know what a nightmare it can be to clear them up. Even if it is “easy” for your bank and credit issuers to resolve, it is still a headache. The safest way to avoid these bumps in the road would be cash. Even though it can be stolen, loss of cash can not have adverse effects on your credit like fraud can. It is difficult to completely remove yourself as a target, but cash is one way to significantly reduce the risk.

Prevent Embarrassment-

Believe it or not, there are some places that do not take credit or debit cards. These archaic businesses can frustrate you, especially if you are not aware of the cash only policy. Cash as a backup is never a bad idea. You don’t want to be walking out of the store with a red face and your tail between your legs because they do not take cards, or worse, your card has been declined. Nobody declines cash.

As always, I’m sure I have missed a few…but these are the reasons that I always have cash as a backup. You never know when it will save your ass.

Photo: mrflip

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Jack @ Master Your Card September 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Great advice – that cash and credit prices at the gas station is interesting. I remember seeing that but for some reason thought it would only apply to fleet cards. But another good reason to avoid paying plastic at the pump is the vulnerability for pumps to be rigged with skimming devices.

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