Choosing Your Method of Payment: Cash, Credit or a TON of Small Change

Although my mother has reiterated time and time again to keep cash in my wallet just in case of an emergency, more often than not, I have nothing but small change in my wallet.  The only times I tend to take money out of my account is when I know the only method of payment accepted is cash: when I go to my hairdresser, owe someone or contribute to the work lottery pool. None of these situations occur very often, hence I rarely use cash.

Efficiency and Ease

I love paying by credit card in that it is so quick and efficient. One tap and you’re good to go. Long gone are the days of signing a receipt.  Remember when retailers had to take an imprint of your credit card and then you would get the signed carbon copy?

As much I love to budget and keep track of my expenses, when it comes to cash, I have a harder time keeping track of my spending.  A good 99% of the time I’ll ask for my receipt and put it in my wallet.  Other times I’ll forget about it or I’ll throw it out by accident when I’m cleaning out my wallet. As gross as this may seem, there have been a couple of times where I’ve dug through the garbage to find a crumpled receipt that I thought I didn’t need but actually did.


Another reason why I am not a big fan of cash is that I have to break a bill and then wind up with all this change in my wallet. In Canada, the smallest denomination of a paper bill is $5. We have $1 and $2 coins called loonies and toonies, respectively. At the rate things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if we eliminated our $5 bill as well and replaced it with a coin called the foonie.

They say patience is a virtue. Unfortunately this is one virtue I have only in limited quantities. Especially when it comes to hunger, technology and money.  I’m the type of person who tries to get her method of payment ready beforehand while waiting in line.  If I’m paying in cash, I’ll do a rough calculation in my head to get an estimate of how much cash I should give to avoid the least amount of change. There’s nothing worse than waiting forever for the person ahead of you. They can’t find their credit card or debit card. It’s the wrong one.  They’re still looking for that darn Air Miles card.  Barely any places in my area use Air Miles with the exception of an expensive grocery store and the liquor store.

cash or card

The one thing that absolutely GRINDS MY GEARS is when people pay for their purchase in nothing but a ton of small change. It just fills me with dread every time I see someone dump out a cup or a change purse with nickels ,dimes, quarters, etc. spilling out onto the counter.  The customer and the poor cashier are now stuck counting out fifty to a hundred coins and I’m stuck waiting behind them with my Visa.  I have been that poor cashier before. It’s a cashier’s worst nightmare. At least it was for me.

Not be a complete jerk, I do understand that some people, especially people of a mature age are more comfortable paying cash. That’s perfectly fine.  It’s just not fine if you’re counting out exact change in nickels and dimes for a $20 purchase.  I thought this was the express lane.  If a store experienced this situation often enough, maybe a dedicated spare change lane would be beneficial for all those people who wanted to get rid of their spare change.

But why can’t they roll up their coins and deposit them at the bank?

Or use those machines that convert coins into bills?

Or use it as a donation in those charity money boxes placed upfront at cash?

I must admit I am not always the biggest fan of change. However, if this change means it saves me time, is easier and more efficient, then I’m all for it.

Change (not spare) is good.

What is your preferred method of payment (and please don’t say small change)?

29 thoughts on “Choosing Your Method of Payment: Cash, Credit or a TON of Small Change

  1. I agree that cash is just too hard to track. I prefer paying with credit except when shopping for small items under $10. If it’s a mom and pop operation, I feel bad hitting the store with the credit card fees and I’ll generally use cash for those times.

  2. I’m old school, and I still like cash. I always ask for a receipt and stuff these in my pocket. When home I toss the receipts in a small bin on my desk for later entry into our budget system. Easy! I’m have paranoid tendencies, and I don’t like the idea of my purchases being trackable, which they would be if I used a debit or credit card.

  3. I rarely pay with cash anymore. In the past if I’ve ever paid with coins, I have the coins largely counted out by the time I get to the register so to minimize the time spent, as a courtesy to fellow shoppers.

    • The odd times I pay with coins, I try and do the same thing. It’s not fair to the rest of the line if you have to count out exact change for your purchase.

  4. While I agree with your mother about carrying at least some cash at all times in case of emergency, I also agree with you that using credit for most purchases is way easier. It’s easier to track, and much easier to avoid dealing with coins.

  5. I love paying cash. I don’t go with many coins, agree it’s annoying to wait for someone who’s paying like this. I don’t use my card too much, especially since I already closed 2 accounts because of the too many fees. I don’t carry too much cash (don’t need it anyway), so it’s still safe and nice. My expense tracking works great, I usually keep the receipts and usually update my info every 2-3 days.

    • I really do like the recorded history of my credit card purchases. Aside from my budget spreadsheet, it is also a good summary of where my money is going.

  6. I use travel rewards credit cards for most of the normal monthly living expenses. Racking up the airline miles is just another way of taking free money. I pay off the balances in full every month so end up paying zero interest. I do keep cash on hand for less frequent purchases.

  7. For the sake of convenience and easier tracking of finances, give me the credit card/ debit card any day. Cash is good too, very tempting when its in your pocket and as you rightly point out, it can get messy tracking cash expenses.

    • Credit cards are way better when travelling overseas. Since I am an impatient person, credit cards are better for me. Although when the machines are down and I don’t have any cash, then that’s a problem. It happened once at the grocery store.

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