Always Use Cash for These 5 Purchases, Financial Experts Say

You'll want to opt for a physical payment in these situations.

Most of us are less likely to have cash on hand these days. After all, most of the purchases we make can now be done with card or even just a tap of our phone. But financial experts advise that you carry at least a little bit of cash at all times—and they even recommend using it to make certain purchases. We consulted these experts to find out when you should be paying with cash. Read on to find out what you'll want to save your bills for.

READ THIS NEXT: Never Use Your Credit Card for These 6 Purchases, According to Financial Experts.

Anything you might return

shopping customer returning product to the seller. money back guarantee

If you know you might end up returning something you're buying, make sure to use cash, says Steven Holmes, a financial expert and the senior investment advisor at iCash.

According to Holmes, many people forgo trying things on in-store and will instead purchase two or three sizes of the same shirt or pair of pants, try them on at home, and them return the sizes they don't need. But you will likely have to wait to get your money back if you paid with anything but cash. Most stores will automatically refund you according to the original form of payment you used for the purchase.

"It would be put back on your credit card if you used one, and the money doesn't always appear in your account for several days," Holmes explains. "But, if your receipt reflects that you made your purchase with cash, the shop will reimburse you with the same amount. Cash payments are immediately returned after the products are returned."

Purchases you make while traveling

Handicraft market in Olinda, Pernambuco

When you're treating yourself on vacation, using cash can help you avoid some seriously shocking charges. Carter Seuthe, a financial advisor and the CEO of Credit Summit, says it's smarter to pay by cash when traveling because card payments could rack up additional fees for you.

"If you are in another country, you might be charged a hefty foreign transaction fee by using a credit card," he warns.

Using cash can also prevent you from accidentally overspending while traveling, according to Seuthe. "If you are going on a vacation and only want to spend a certain amount of money, having that in cash can also help keep you on track to meet your budget goals," he explains.

Your small everyday spending

man carrying plastic bags with groceries
ARIMAG / Shutterstock

Cash shouldn't only be your currency of choice when traveling, however. You should also use this form of payment for many of your everyday transactions, according to Michael Collins, CFA, a financial professor at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

"Small purchases, such as grocery items, should be made with cash," he says. "This is because the amount of money being exchanged is minimal and the use of cash deters people from impulse buying."

Using cash can help you budget more efficiently for your everyday spending, and keep you from going overboard. "It is also important to use cash for small purchases to avoid overdraft fees associated with debit and credit cards," Collins adds.

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Buying secondhand from online sellers

craigslist homepage on open laptop

Online marketplaces like Facebook or Craigslist can be a great way for people to save on expensive products by buying them secondhand from someone else. But Jake Hill, a financial expert and the CEO of DebtHammer, cautions against using just any kind of payment method for these transactions.

"Craigslist purchases, or big purchases through any stranger, are always best with cash," Hill says. "Providing sensitive information to people you do not know is never a good idea."

Getting gas

Unrecognizable male putting fuel dispenser in tank while refueling vehicle on self service gas station. High quality photo

The next time you get gas, reach for your cash instead of your card, advises Bill Ryze, a certified financial consultant and board advisor at Fiona. "You may have noticed that most gas stations offer a discount for cash payments," he says.

As Forbes further explains, stations will mark prices higher for card payments to offset transactions fees from banks and credit card companies. The difference can be as high as 40 cents in some places, so "when paying for gas, it is best to pay in cash to take advantage of discounts," Ryze confirms.

Williams Bevins, CFP, a licensed financial advisor based in Franklin, Tennessee, says paying in cash can also prevent you from potentially getting scammed while fueling up.

"Criminals have used gas station pumps by equipping them with malicious devices known as 'skimmers' that may be used to steal your credit card information without you even knowing," Bevins warns.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date financial information from top experts and the latest news and research, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the money you're spending, saving, or investing, always consult your financial advisor directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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