Cards and Other Substitutes for Cash

By William Mashburn
wmashburn@lc.edu 

As anyone may have noticed, times have changed. Due to COVID-19, many issues have arisen over the past 4 months and this virus has affected many businesses. The United States government has tried to keep it out of offices and buildings essential to the economy. Like the rest of the country, it has failed. Due to this pandemic, many retail stores and businesses have recently had to switch to a “card only” payment method. This is because the Federal Reserve has been the last to be affected. The question is, what does one do if they do not own a card to make payments with?

It seems crazy that anyone living in the United States wouldn’t have some sort of bank or account that offers a debit or credit card; however, as a retail worker, I can safely say that it is sometimes the case. Many people still only use cash as a form of payment and as their only payment method. So what happens when you get to a store and can’t use cash? There are a couple of different things that you can do. 

1. Get a bank account
This seems like the obvious choice and possibly the most common. Bank accounts that are used for everyday transactions, or checking accounts, provide the members of said account with a Debit card. This takes money out of that account almost instantly to pay for your goods. 

2. Touchless payment. 
If you still do not want to go through the process of getting an official account and prefer the company of your choice, try looking into a touchless payment method. Apple Pay is a good example. It’s a payment method that’s similar to a credit card. You pay with your phone or smartwatch, and it completes the transaction. No card or cash necessary. These have their own perks and cons but it does offer an extra layer of protection if you’re keeping sanitation in mind. Walmart pay is another good example of a touchless payment.

3. Third-party cards
So you don’t like banks or companies that use touchless payment, but you still need a card. Most retailers will carry prepaid, reloadable cards. These are cards you can take into most retailers and load cash onto. This means you can still take your cash into the store, reload it onto a card and use that card to pay. Your funds are instantly available and ready to use. The only downside to these prepaid cards is the fees. An example is a reloadable Visa card. The reload fee is $3.74 for this card in particular. However cards like the Bluebird American Express are free to load and to pull money off of, so you always have the free option to get your cash back.

These are some ways you can keep up with the constant changes when it comes to payments during this pandemic. If the U.S. continues to experience a coin shortage cards may be all that’s left when it comes to making payments. Getting a bank account should be second nature at this point, it’s always helpful to have. Going touchless is a great and safe way to stay germ-free with a quick and easy way of payment. And lastly, prepaid cards are a fantastic way to use your cash and comply with the ever so changing retail industry. 

 

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