Cashless purchases: there are more things money can’t buy than happiness

12th Apr 2016

Things Money Can’t Buy

We all know that money can’t buy love or happiness, but it can also fall short when it comes to purchasing a surprising number of material things. While cold hard cash may have been the currency back in the day, card and contactless payments have been conducting a slow takeover, so you could find yourself out of options if you still like to pay in cash.

If you’ve found a happy home among those forgotten artefacts called notes and coins then don’t get too comfortable… you may be in for a surprise.

Netflix: when you’re desperate for a Netflix original series and you can’t watch it
You’re on the brink of cracking a murder case or learning how to survive a zombie apocalypse, and there’s no way you’re going to miss the next episode of your favourite Netflix series. Or is there?

Unless you’ve got a working payment card, you can’t complete your subscription. Which means no more Netflix original series, or any of your favourite shows. As of June last year, you can technically pay with a gift card if you go to the shops and buy one1 – but that’s not really cash is it?

1940's woman watching old TV

London transport: when you courageously help those less fortunate on the bus

Oh dear. You’re late for work and some London bus novice has approached the driver with nothing but a handful of change. They don’t know you’ve been unable to pay for the bus without a credit or debit card, oyster or pass since 2014.2

So you stride over, a hero in the making, and show them how it’s done.

People in restaurant paying bill

Rent: it’s that time again… you need to pay your landlord but you’ve only got pennies in your piggy bank

Not many private landlords allow you to pay in cash. They usually request a bank transfer or standing order, but your piggy bank is bursting and it seems like a good opportunity to palm off some of your loose change.

1940's couple holding money

However, according to a little-known set of rules called the ‘Coinage Act 1971’, it’s actually illegal to pay for anything valued at over 20p in copper coins. You can’t use 5p or 10p coins for a purchase over £5, and you can’t pay in 20p and 50p pieces for any amount over £10.3

There’s nothing to stop you paying any amount in one pound coins though. It’s worth a try.

Ubers: when you’re so generous you pay the Uber driver in cash… and by card
You’ve had a great night out and, in the spirit of goodwill, you’ve decided to pay your friendly Uber driver in cash. It’s only when you get in the house that you realise you just paid twice.

1940's man driving a vintage car

In May 2015, Uber broke from their original premise and started accepting cash payments in some countries4, but not in the UK, so keep your pennies in your purse.

Housing market: when you’re grown up enough to buy a house
Oh, so you have enough money to buy a house with cash? What have you got to worry about?

Grandfather and grandchildren sitting in front of house

Well, actually it’s pretty difficult to pay for anything in cash that has a value of €15,000 (£11,831.19) or more. Any business accepting that kind of money is classed by HM Revenue and Customs as a High Value Dealer5. That kind of money rouses their suspicions, so it has to be registered for supervision under ‘Money Laundering Regulations 2007’.

Glastonbury tickets: when you realise you’ve blown your chances of going to Glasto
You’re finally through to the official ticket buying page on the Glastonbury website after the most agonising twenty minutes of your life, but you don’t own a credit card. What were you thinking?

1940's man wearing suit climbing out of tent

Tickets for popular festivals like Glastonbury are snagged online so quickly that it’s pointless offering cheque or cash payment methods. The only way to get your hands on a Glasto ticket is to register online in advance and make a card payment on the official website6… should you be lucky enough to get through that is.

Apps: when you need the latest dating app to find ‘the one’

Valentine’s Day was a bust, but you’re certain you’ll meet The One if you download the latest dating app that all your friends are using. Alas, your romantic venture is foiled by the lack of a simple credit card.

1940's couple holding chocolates saying 'I love you

If you fancy the trip out, you can actually circumvent the normal payment method and buy a gift card for apps from certain shops7 – but that’s a lot of effort for an app. Let’s hope they’re worth it!

Fuel: when you want a speedy exit but can’t pay at the pump

You’ve got it all… the fancy car and the fancy credit card to match. But hang on, where is it? You check every pocket, patting yourself vigorously, but to no avail.

1940's man in suit holding a pile of cash

Paying at the pump is great. A swipe of the card and you’re away, the perfect exit for a speed demon like you. As of July 2015, you can even pay for petrol using your mobile phone with Shell’s Fill Up and Go service8. Of course, if you only have cash on you…

Ordering food online: when you’ve partied too hard to shop

You’re hungover. You don’t plan on leaving the house for the foreseeable future but your cupboards are bare… never fear, there’s always the takeaway. Except, wait - what’s that? Your favourite takeaway requires card payments before delivery?

1940's man pouring salt onto a fish

While some takeaway eateries let you pay on arrival in cash, popular delivery sites like Deliveroo only accept card payments9. So if you’re stuck without a credit card, unfortunately you’ll have to go to the shops or go hungry.

Paying in cash abroad: when you finally retire to the South of France

You’ve sold up and moved to France. The weather’s beautiful, the food is divine, all you need now is to install a swimming pool and spend your twilight years topping up your tan. Only thing is, you don’t have a bank account yet and the builders won’t accept cash.

Row of six women sitting at the edge of a swimming pool

If you’re paying out large sums while living abroad, beware that destinations like France and Italy won’t let residents pay in cash if the bill is €1,000 or more10. If you’re just visiting however, you can spend up to €15,000*.

*There are plans to reduce this limit to €10,000 in 2017.11

Heading to the Oscars: when Leonardo’s date bails on him at the last minute and you have to fill in
You’ve organised a special night in playing Connect Four against yourself but since it’s the Oscars you think you might as well make an appearance, Leonardo’s on his own, after all.

However, the only way to make absolutely sure you get a seat at the Oscars is to be nominated for an award.12

Woman wearing 1920's style clothing

But all is not lost. To be in with a chance at rubbing shoulders with the ‘A List’, you can apply online to be an extra or ‘seat filler’13. That means, when one of the celebs needs the toilet, you can keep their seat warm and stop the room from looking empty. While that might not be the glamour you’re after, it’s worth a shot… no cash, cards or polite begging is going to get you in without a nomination otherwise.

Do we prefer cards to cash?
The use of physical money is becoming less and less common – just 3.5% of money in the UK exists in the form of notes and coins14 – and it’s no surprise when you think about it.

Fiddling about with change is inconvenient, time consuming and sometimes a little bit dirty. So when you consider the ease of the contactless payments that we’re getting more used to each day, it’s not hard to see why more people are converting from coins to cashless payments.

If you’re interested in making the leap from coins to cashless, MBNA have a range of credit cards to choose from which come ready for contactless as standard.

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