I’ve got one of those stupid VISA commercials going through my head where they show how great using a debit card can be. There is one guy who pays cash for something, and he stops the well-oiled machine dead while the clerk gives him his change.
Are debit cards that great?
Sure, there is a convenience factor of being able to use them wherever VISA (or MASTERCARD) is accepted. But that also lets in some badness when it comes to young people and finance.
I love my debit card. I rarely use anything else. But when I’m going to a fast-food place, or any place where it is too easy to make impulse purchases, I prefer to use cash. I only carry a few dollars on me at any time, and I don’t like to make multiple trips to the ATM. I know the availability is there for using the debit, but there is always something that I think would be really cool to have, that is usually slightly more expensive than the amount of cash I have on me. At these times, I’m glad to use cash.
There is another downside to a debit dependence. Every time you use your debit card, you are opening yourself up to possible fraud. If you use cash when you can (and without carrying too much), you are limiting that risk.
At the end of the day, the debit card is an awesome thing, and there may be a day in your lifetime where it replaces cash completely, but I still contend that cash is king, especially for those small purchases.