Cash, check or debit card?

Published 9:17 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Once upon a time in a land far, far away (okay, not that far away, but actually right here) the biggest decisions facing an individual preparing to make a minor purchase was (1) do I really need it; and (2) can I afford it?

Now, thanks to most individuals possessing a pocketful of plastic money and an endless offer of more credit arriving in the daily mail, some consumers never consider decision #2, or at least not until the monthly statement arrives.

Nowadays, places of business, in order to feed that beast known as a paperless society, prefer their customers use some sort of plastic, whether it’s a credit or debit card. Cash and/or personal checks are becoming obsolete.

The bad thing about that aforementioned fact is that I prefer to use cash. If I did want to use a personal check, I’m finding more and more places of business that have posted policies about accepting that type of payment. Give ‘em some time and the same will be said about cash.

There are places of business that I often frequent that have adopted “No Checks Accepted” policies. I understand that there are some individuals, fully aware of their checking status at the bank, who still choose to write a bad check. Fortunately, I’m not among that group. That’s not to say I’m rich enough not to worry about my checking account, but rather that I’m aware of what I have in the bank.

However by not taking my check it’s like these businesses are grouping me with the bunch who write bad checks. That upsets me.

I guess it has all boiled down to simple convenience. Business owners don’t have to tie-up their time in an attempt to get their money from a bad check transaction. But why penalize me for the financial troubles of someone else? After all, I am a customer. They should welcome my business, not turn me away because I choose to pen a personal check.

There’s another business that will not accept my personal check for a contracted monthly service. I can write a check and mail the payment to their corporate office, but they have a policy about accepting personal checks at their local office. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I know we’ve all seen the commercials on TV where patrons are shown making payment by plastic, either debit or credit. They always work a few seconds into those spots to show a customer paying by cash or check, thus making a point that “those people” slow down the process. My reaction to the producers of those lame commercials is please, don’t insult my intelligence. It’s not a perfect world out there where every little thing, each and every day flows smoothly.

While I am the owner of a debit/credit card and I do admit I’ve used the debit form of payment on occasion, I make every attempt to pay with cash. I choose that method for two reasons….(1) I can budget my spending more efficiently with cash; and (2) I’ve witnessed numerous occasions here locally that there was a “glitz in the system” and electronic transactions could not be made at that time.

Another downside to paying electronically, especially with a debit card, is that you still have to go home at night, cut on your computer, visit your bank’s website, log-in your private access number and view your financial transactions of the day. If so, don’t you still have to record that information in order to accurately determine your checking account balance? You may have saved some time at the checkout counter, but you lose that upon trying the balance the books at night.

I’ll take cash over plastic any day of the week!


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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