Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cash is vanishing from our lives

Have change for a $20? Didn't think so.

Almost nobody carries cash anymore, a new study shows, and those who do, don't carry much. Roughly eight in 10 people carry less than $50 cash in their wallets on a regular basis, according to a new report from Bankrate.com. Close to 50 percent of Americans carry $20 or less each day, including nine percent who don't carry any cash at all. And only 7 percent carry more than $100 each day.

"Consumers prefer to pay with plastic, debit or credit or some other type of mobile technology," says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

The findings aren't too surprising at a time when most consumers are able to swipe their debit cards to buy a pack of gum and scan their phones to buy an afternoon latte. Purchases made with cash aren't as easy to track as those detailed in credit card and checking account statements, and some consumers may worry they'll break their budgets by spending any cash they withdraw. But there could be more at play than the rising popularity of paying with plastic.

Some people don't carry cash because they don't have that much of it to spare, McBride says. Some 27 percent of Americans pretty much live paycheck to paycheck, according to a Bankrate.com survey conducted last June.

But in some cases, not stashing cash could get costly. Consumers who find themselves at a cash-only restaurant or in a cab that doesn't accept plastic may have to pay fees after stopping at an out-of-network ATM. The combined fees charged by banks and ATMs in those scenarios now average more than $4 for each cash withdrawal. Suddenly that $20 bill you didn't carry in your wallet is worth only $16.

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