18 Things You Should Only Pay For in Cash

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By Darryl Henderson

It’s easy to put everything on credit these days, but that’s a poor way to avoid debt, which could mean that life is more complicated than it needs to be. To make your life easier, here are 18 things you should only pay for in cash!

Purchases From Local Stores

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To better support the economy and your local businesses, you should always try to pay in cash instead of a card. This helps small businesses avoid card fees that come with the majority of transactions and helps them build a more positive relationship with their local stores.

Farmers’ Markets and Street Vendors

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If you’re grabbing fresh local produce or a quick hot dog on the go, don’t forget to pay in cash instead of a card. Even if they accept cards, cash can help with a quick and easy transaction on those small stalls. It also gives you the freedom to haggle a slightly cheaper price!

Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

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HuffPost explains that “cash is king” at flea markets, so you’ll want to load up your wallet before you go to get the best deals. Vendors love shoppers who bring physical cash and are happy to negotiate prices, as this helps everyone avoid transaction fees and makes for a smoother process, too.

Taxi Rides or Local Transportation

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Surge pricing can easily happen when you’re paying with your card through transport booking apps, so paying for a normal taxi in cash can simplify transactions and avoid any increased fees. You can also better support your drivers directly, including with tipping, by physically giving them cash.

Entertainment Shows and Ticketed Events

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These days, you have to jump into an online queue to make a card purchase for an upcoming show, which usually includes countless transaction fees. By paying in cash when you can, such as buying tickets at the box office or even at the movie theater, you can avoid these extra costs.

Personal Gifts

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If you’re looking for a surprise gift or don’t want a loved one to know about a high price tag, paying with cash is the better option. It eliminates transaction records with your bank that they might see, making it a more discreet way to buy gifts without revealing the price.

Charitable Donations

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If you’re looking to make a charity donation, no matter how large or small, it’s often much more preferable to do so in cash. This means there’s no paper trail back to you, so you can make an anonymous donation as you wish. You can also make sure that you avoid processing fees.

Home Services and Repairs

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Home repairs and maintenance can quickly become costly. Negotiating a discount wherever you can will be key, and this is more easily done when you’re paying with cash. Paying with cash also helps you build more positive relationships with local service providers and pay for materials upfront.

Personal Training or Fitness Classes

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We all know that gym memberships often come with cancellation fees or monthly price increases. If you instead seek out a personal trainer who is happy to accept cash, you can avoid any extra fees and bargain a better price for bulk sessions.

Local Festivals and Fairs

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You can better support community events like festivals and fairs if you carry cash with you. Paying only with card can often be restricting at these types of events, as it’s easier for cash transactions with the festival food vendors or rides. You can also negotiate better prices for souvenirs.

Restaurants Abroad

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Paying with cash helps you avoid those pesky foreign transaction fees when eating out while also helping you better track your spending. You also have more freedom to tip serving staff, so Investopedia advises that European travelers should always have a small amount of cash on hand!

Dry Cleaning and Tailoring Services

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Paying with cash instead of a card for tailored services like dry cleaning means you can better promote quality of service by taking a more personal approach. This also allows for more discreet tipping when you believe you’ve received exceptional service, which will help build a positive business relationship.

Street Performers and Artists

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Looking to support creative talent is tough when you don’t have cash on hand, and it also means that the moment is disrupted when you can’t simply hand over physical cash quickly. With card transactions, there’s more pressure on them to see the screen. With cash, you can pay what you feel is fair.

Spa Treatments and Massage Therapy

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Paying on your card for spa bookings or massage therapy leaves you open to email subscriptions, unwanted contact, and even upselling pressures. Spa treatments should be about relaxation, so paying directly with cash is often the best way to avoid the pressure!

Veterinary Services

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Unexpected charges can easily happen with pet payment services. Sarah Deadman, via LinkedIn, outlines why it’s important to shop around for vet services, as the industry is hugely competitive. This is more easily done when paying for cash, as you’re then not tied in to direct debit or monthly fees. That’s smart!

Local Coffee Shops

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Many local coffee shops will have a minimum required spend for paying with a card, so if you’re looking for the cheapest deal, taking cash with you is the best choice. It also allows you to throw some coins more easily in the tip jar, which will make the barista’s day.

Home-Based Businesses or Freelancers

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If you want to support the self-employed and entrepreneurs, cash can often be the best option if you’re working directly with them in person. It helps to have a better conversation about project rates and negotiate the best deal, rather than a set bill sent online, which might also include transaction fees.

Local Bookstores

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Lastly, resist the urge to order your favorite new edition from an online bookseller (and pay the extra delivery fee) by shopping in your local bookstore with cash instead! This way, you can more easily support local authors and businesses, which The Guardian notes encourages more ethical shopping!