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The many cash-alternative ways to pay – pros and cons.

Date last updated: 10 /14/2022

Think back to the last time you made a purchase. What form of payment did you use? The odds are, that like many consumers today, you didn’t use cash to complete the transaction. Just as they do with food deliveries and meetings, people are turning to contactless cash alternatives to save time and energy at checkout. And, in a post-pandemic world, cash alternatives can also help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria (an added bonus!). Those who’ve said goodbye to cash have multiple options to choose from that fit their personal shopping needs. Some may use wearable payments, which can help users check out securely and efficiently with a click on their smartwatch, while others may use person-to-person payments that help users pay back their friends quickly and effortlessly. To help you navigate the many ways to pay, we’ve put together the following overview to help break it down and weigh the pros and cons.

What are common cash alternatives?

While cash isn't likely to become obsolete anytime soon, other payment methods are constantly improving their security and efficiency so that you’re able to spend your money wherever, whenever and however you prefer. Here's an overview of some alternatives that make managing your money easy:

  • Person-to-person (P2P) – Let’s say you want to reimburse a friend for gas after a road trip — or your siblings owe you money for a group present. Services like Venmo®, Square® Cash, Google® Wallet, Zelle® and many banks, including Commerce Bank, let you exchange money with family and friends directly from your mobile device. It's free to sign up and download the apps, but each service has different fees for sending and receiving money.

  • Digital payments – Mobile wallets, wearable payments and Click-To-Pay online checkout are all forms of digital payments that help make your purchases quick and easy. Whether you’re using your smartwatch to make a wearable payment on vacation, or speeding up your online shopping with a mobile wallet, these flexible digital payment solutions allow you to complete your transactions quickly, smoothly and securely.

  • Prepaid cards – These cards work like a debit card, except you load them with money first, then use them anywhere debit cards are accepted — even ATMs. And, you can only spend up to the amount you've loaded, making them a great budgeting tool. The cards can be reloaded multiple times and can usually be replaced if lost or stolen.

  • Credit and debit cards – These types of cards provide a safer, more convenient way to pay for everything from small purchases to big-ticket items. Most offer protection from unauthorized purchases, and advancements, like chip readers and contactless cards, are helping to decrease the likelihood of fraud.

  • Online and mobile banking – In addition to your mobile phone, your tablet or computer can be transformed into a payment device, allowing you to pay bills, set up recurring payments or transfer funds on your bank’s online banking portal. These conveniences can save time and give you a leg up on managing your money.

Navigating the switch to cashless

Although the alternatives above come with many benefits, they can also have a downside. Unlike paying with cash, using payment options like credit cards and prepaid cards can make you vulnerable to scams and fraud.

While paying back a friend through a P2P service may save time and energy, involving a third party in your transaction may increase the risk of fraud. According to Forbes, participating in open banking environments with a third party can make users more susceptible to phony transactions, scams and fraud.

Being a victim of a scam can be difficult to recover from and with new types of theft popping up regularly, it can be even harder to stay current with recent trends. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Stay up-to-date on recent scams, and be informed of different types of threats, warning signs to watch out for, and what steps you should take if you’ve become a victim of fraud.

Fraudsters work hard at trying to find new ways to swindle (or steal) money from others, and that’s why Commerce also offers identity theft services like Commerce ID Recover and Commerce ID Monitor. Both products offer 24/7 Live Support and up to $25,000 in ID Theft Reimbursement, while those who sign up for Commerce ID Monitor will also receive proactive monitoring and protection for their Commerce personal checking accounts.

The pros and cons of using cash alternatives


  • All transactions are recorded, making it easy to track purchases, monitor expenses and save records electronically through mobile banking, online banking or your printed monthly bank or card statements.

  • Commerce Bank cards are covered with Zero-Liability Protection® to ensure that you don’t pay for any unauthorized transactions.

  • No need to carry large amounts of cash when making a large purchase that could add the risk of non-recoverable theft.

  • Plastic cards are often recoverable. If they're lost or stolen, they can be cancelled and replaced, unlike cash.

  • Many cards provide benefits like free travel insurance and extended warranties, along with perks like cash-back and travel rewards.

  • Save a trip to the ATM; there’s no need to worry about having enough cash on hand.


  • Some people or places might prefer cash only (think babysitters and people you tip).

  • Cash may be more convenient for small purchases.

  • Some services may charge fees for sending money digitally.

  • Some cash alternatives, such as digital payments, may make you more vulnerable to theft and scams.

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