Cards or Cash – Which Do You Prefer?

Mercedes Eggleton-Garcia, Mastercard, VP, Community Relations



…92% of all currency is digital! SOURCE: Money.HowStuffWorks

In a recent blog we thanked Mastercard for sharing Sammy Rabbit with its employees and community partners.

We used the opportunity to ask Sammy Rabbit fans to share their thoughts on 5 propositions Mastercard is highlighting in its community empowerment program titled “Master Your Card.”

One of the propositions is “Cards Are Better Than Cash!”

Here are a few of the reasons Mastercard believes this is true.

… Mastering the use of payment cards provides greater value, buying power, convenience, safety and better financial management…

Now, see some of your thoughts to the question – Are Cards Better Than Cash?

David Almonte | CPA, CGMA, Co-Founder of FountainHead RI

When it comes to the cash vs credit card discussion, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

“Cash is king”, is the age-old saying. Cash is great in times of uncertainty or economic collapse (depending on which way the dollar is moving) as credit card companies will start to slash available spending limits and consumers may be pretty close to maxing out their credit cards anyway in tough times. Cash can also be advantageous when it comes to the negotiation table, as it tends to afford you the ability to strike a better deal – cash can be utilized right now, without any sort of transaction fees. Cash also provides a great option for those who need to stick to a budget. It can be hard to stick to a budget when all you have to do is swipe a card and deal with it later; spending something that is tangible, like cash, provides a person’s psyche with the instant pain or loss (of each transaction) right away, making it less likely that a consumer will overspend.

Credit cards on the other hand can offer amazing benefits, such as liability protection, accumulation of rewards, ability to build-out your credit history, built-in details of transaction history and the fact you don’t have to carry around all this cash (among many other advantages). A downside to credit card use is that unfortunately not all Americans are great with their finances and might not have the ability to pay off their credit card each month. Consumers need to understand that interest rates can be exceedingly high (upwards of 18%) when it comes to credit cards (for balances that carry over each month, and even higher, when it comes to cash advances). Like everything else in life, credit cards can be a huge advantage if proper guardrails are put in place.

Cameron Huddleston | Contributor at

I prefer the convenience of plastic. I use debit cards for store purchases and credit cards for online purchases to get an extra level of protection. Plus, I have rewards credit cards, so I earn points for travel discounts. The key, though, is to pay off the balance each month to avoid racking up interest.

Mike Vien | CEO, Wallit

I’ll take cards over cash. But, I prefer debit cards over credit cards.

I strongly believe debit cards can improve financial wellness, especially for families with teens, by better managing one’s discretionary spending.

At Wallit we further believe a “smart” wallet with linked debit card can help solve three wide-spread, pervasive and growing societal challenges:

1. Nearly 80% of the U.S. workforce lives paycheck to paycheck.

2. Almost 50% of American households do not have $400 saved up for an emergency.

3. Massive credit card debt – which surpassed $1T this summer.

A smart debit wallet can further improve financial wellness by automating many of the manual and time consuming tasks we know we should do, but most of us don’t. Those would include budgeting, balancing a checkbook, saving, etc.

Nicole K. Martin | Financial Literacy Coach & Accountant

I have always preferred using my debit/credit card to pay for purchases over cash because cards are more hygienic to handle, cards are harder to steal, cards are traceable, funds in the card account are insured against unauthorized misuse and every single purchase transactions is recorded for me which assists me with my budget maintenance!

Jon Pierre Milan | Account Executive, Salesforce

Cards ARE better than cash! Using debit, credit, or pre-paid cards allows you to monitor how much you spend, thus helping to stay on track with your budgets. Debit and credit cards also provide protection against fraud, as they’re federally insured. There is also the added layer of security knowing that if you lose your payment card, you aren’t losing the funds, and can easily work with your issuing bank to replace it! Cards > Cash

Paul Vasey | Financial Education Consultant at Personal Finance Lab

I always used to be about cash, but I am slowly beginning to appreciate credit cards. Before anyone touches a credit card, people should really understand how to manage their money. Cash teaches you cashflow and being able to connect the dots between what you have and what you have spent. Credit cards encourage you to swipe and go without any real notion of what you have spent until you get your monthly statement. There are many benefits to using credit cards such as protection against fraud and you earn points for rewards which slowly add up over time. However, it is only around 2 cents for every dollar you spend. Don’t let the credit card advertisements fool you into thinking that it is a lot. You do have to be disciplined with your credit card. If you miss a payment the interest and late fees hit you similar to payday loan rates. Be judicious.

Patricia Greenway | Board of Directors, President at Access2Employment

I don’t own a credit card, because it causes debt and is too easy for someone to charge items on my card if stolen or lost. Using a debit card or writing checks makes it easier for me to track my expenses. Plus a debit card requires a PIN, which eliminates risk of thieves using my card. I rarely use cash…it seems to vanish quicker.

Tony Steuer, Author and Financial Preparedness Advocate

Cash for kids (first):

Depending on the age of the child, it can be hard for them to understand something like cards, as they are still developing their abstract thinking skills. Children generally develop abstract thinking skills between ages 6 and 10. Cards also require the use of math skills, which they are also still developing. Kids can count their cash and understand the concept of putting it in a piggy bank or bank account. With older kids, once they’ve developed basic math skills and are able to understand abstract concepts, you can then introduce cards.  

Max Pashman | Vice President at One Wealth Management

I enjoy taking advantage of a credit card, but that’s because I have a little self control on how I spend. I only spent what I knew I could easily pay back instantly versus hoping to repay with my next paycheck.  For the average American, cash is the way to go. There are simply many downsides that outweigh the perks when owning a card. But if you believe you can use cards responsibly, then all power to you. Cash rewards can be an excellent way building a little cash reserve without even thinking about it.  Just make sure you pay the balance down to zero EVERY month!

Wayne Tilman | Personal Finance Author; 2020 Chapter President, Financial Planning Association (FPA) – Triangle Wilmington, NC

I believe that cash still has a great value in teaching young ones about spending habits. Let’s say your child earns $20 doing chores. If you give them two $5’s and a $10 and say use it as you wish, the financially aware child might put $5 in the bank and spend the rest. If you instead tell your child that $20 had been placed in their account, I believe they might spend all if it with the card. Having cash in hand limits them in over-spending and under-saving.

Kerrie Beene | CFP® & Financial Planner at Rooted Planning Group

I believe for discretionary spending cash is better. Once bills are paid, create a spending plan and then get cash for discretionary spending categories. When you go into a store it is so much harder to spend the cash vs. swiping the card. There seems to be a disconnect when we swipe vs. taking the cash out of your wallet and giving it to the cashier. 


…More than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could, and at least 20 percent already pretty much do so, a study showed on Wednesday... SOURCE:


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(1) Sign Up for Sammy Rabbit’s 1st Teen and College Financial Education Event! It’s virtual. Everyone is welcome to attend. And, if you would like to be a part of the vision, leadership team and execution of this event, contact Sammy 

(2) Lead a Sammy Dream Big Financial Literacy Education Experience in your community, just like students from Loras College did in Dubuque, Iowa.

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(1) Enroll one child, class, or school in Sammy Rabbit’s new online Money School!

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Here is a “sneak peek” at a few questions we are working on and will feature your responses in a forthcoming Sammy blog:

(1) At what age should we start teaching kids about digital money, including debit and credit cards? Why?

(2) What was your first job – formal or informal? Share a little about your experience. How much did you earn? What did you do with the money?

(3) What or who piqued your interest in personal finance and money? Share a little of the story.

(4) Other than home or a classroom, WHAT is one of your favorite places to create a teachable “money moment” and why? Is it the bank? How about the grocery store? What about in the car, at a restaurant or at the gas station? Daily life offers lots of opportunities for “in the moment,” “on the spot,” “hands on” learning about great money habits! Take advantage of them. Talk to and teach your kids about great money habits!

(5) Who is your favorite bank or credit union? What makes them special?

Enroll 1 Child Today! Goal: 1 Million Members Worldwide by 2024


(1) This Story Breaks My Heart

(2) 7 Steps to Better Money and Reading Habits for Kids

(3) Just Go To The Bank (Mom)!

If you have questions, suggestions or would like learn more about Sammy Rabbit and his mission to teach kids great money habits and other important life skills, contact us!

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Have a Sammyriffic Financially Literate Day!

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About the Author

Sam X Renick is a children's Author, Co-Creator of Sammy, Award Winning Financial Educator & Double Bottom Line Entrepreneur!

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