The Great Debit Card vs. Cash Debate


We’ve all heard the warnings that come with carrying a balance on high-interest credit cards. Those trying to keep their budgets in check may have resorted back to cash only. But others worry about the wisdom in carrying large sums of money and think using debit cards makes more sense. Below we offer points to consider in the great debit card vs. cash debate.


Budgets in Check

Budgeting involves thoughtful planning of incoming funds and outgoing expenses, with ultimately more coming in than going out. The most important part in budgeting is knowing how much to budget and tracking how much you actually spend.


When someone pays strictly in cash (think the envelope system craze from the 90s), they budget in a physical way. Once they use all the cash allotted in an envelope, that’s it until the next payday. This can be an effective measure to keep spending in check, but it does have some limitations. What happens if you only bring your grocery envelope to the store and go over budget?


Online options that help you track and categorize your debit card purchases can serve the same function as those envelopes. They can help you to stick to your overall budget while allowing for on-the-fly flexibility. This way you’re never stuck if you spend a dollar or two more than allotted in one category.


Security and Theft

Of course, when it comes to authorized purchases, cash is king. When you pass over cold hard cash, you’ve authorized your purchase. The downside though is when you carry cash, if you lose it and or it gets stolen, it’s gone.


Lose your debit card or forget which pocket you left it in (it happens), you can instantly turn off your card in Standard Bank’s mobile app. By turning your debit card off, you can make sure no one can use your card for unauthorized purchases. The money in your account stays safe. When you find the card, simply turn authorizations back on again. Or you can have it cancelled and a new one sent to you when you give up searching.


Those wary of security breaches can take comfort in enhanced technology that makes fraud much harder whether in person or online. Digital wallets on secure smart phones offer additional security and convenience. And if fraudulent charges are discovered by you or (more likely) by the bank’s cybersecurity team, you’re not liable for the fraudulent charges.



In very limited instances, say during an airport search, carrying large sums of cash looks highly suspicious. If you travel internationally with more than $10,000, you must report it. Depending on amounts and circumstances, TSA may require you to account for the money. If they suspect any ties to money laundering or drug trafficking, they can turn it over to law enforcement agents. Even in illegal seizure cases, you’ll hear stories about the difficulty faced getting legal cash back. In contrast, no one questions how much you have in your bank account when you use a debit card. They only care if it covers whatever purchases you make.



Want to hear even more ways a Standard Bank account with a debit card can help you? Stop by one of our branches and ask! Stop by your local office to learn more or speak with one of our professionals.