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The pros and cons of going cashless.

How much cash is in your wallet? For many of us, the answer may be very little, or none at all. For some, carrying cash seems to be less important than it used to be. From plastic to apps, research shows that more of us are embracing the convenience of non-cash methods to spend, save and even transfer money. Whether you're reimbursing a co-worker for coffee or buying living room furniture, there are plenty of options that eliminate the need to keep cash on hand. To help you understand what’s available, how it works and what the benefits are, we’ve put together the following overview to help break it down.

What you need to know
While cash isn't likely to become totally obsolete anytime soon, new payment methods are popping up that tap into the convenience and security of being able to spend your money wherever, whenever and however you like. Here's an overview of cash alternatives that make managing your money easy:
  • Person-to-person (P2P) - 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 Popmoney®, Venmo®, Square® Cash, Google® Wallet and many banks, including Commerce, 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.

  • Mobile Wallets – If you’ve seen someone pay by holding their smart phone over the terminal at the register, they’re probably using a mobile wallet. Payment apps and services like Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay®, Android Pay®, Visa® Checkout and PayPal® keep routine transactions simple — whether you're paying bills or paying for dinner. Users download the free app, add a credit card, debit card or bank information, and "tap and pay" at any retailer that accepts the service.

  • Prepaid cards – These cards work like a debit card, except you load them with money first, and then use them anywhere debit cards are accepted, even ATM machines. 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.

  • Traditional credit and debit cards – These types of cards provide a safer and 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, are helping to increase security and decrease the likelihood of fraud.

The pros and cons of going cashless
Pros
  • All transactions are recorded, making it easy to track purchases, monitor expenses and save records via your bank or card statements.
  • No need to carry large amounts of cash when making a large purchase.
  • 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.
  • Provides a safer and more convenient spending option to use when traveling.
Cons
  • Some people/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.