Can you handle the rising cost of cards?

Posted on: 15/08/2011

You've popped to the shop for a pint of milk, a packet of biscuits or perhaps just a cheeky chocolate bar and, upon arrival at the till, you glance into your wallet to find nothing but a spare 1p piece.

Sighing, you reluctantly hand over your debit or credit card, glancing over your shoulder at the ever-increasing queue.

The clerk takes your card and shakes his head, pointing at a sign next to his till: "All card transactions must be worth £5 or more." He shrugs his shoulders and asks whether you'd like to make a cash payment instead?

A familiar scene no doubt for many of us who, in a desperate attempt to avoid embarrassment at being the person delaying the queue, will frantically begin grabbing nearby items in the hope that your total spend amount will quickly increase to the minimum limit for a card transaction.

Thinking back on the number of times this has happened to me, I realised with a bit of shock that I must have spent an extraordinary amount on unnecessary items, in order to buy something as simple (and cheap!) as a can of coke. Having come to the conclusion that this was money most terribly spent, I decided to do something about it.

No longer would the minimum card spend take it's toll on my finances. No longer would I be forced to buy an extra packet of bizarrely flavoured 'fruity' biscuits - the closest item to the till - in order to purchase a carton of juice.

So I came up with a quick and simply cash solution and ensure that there is always an emergency £5 note in my purse, readily available for the next time I come up short at the till.

For the past month I have also kept a change jar by the front door which I ensure is always full of a few pound coins, fifty pence pieces etc. While it sounds like a trivial action, I am already noticing its benefits. Firstly, our kitchen cupboards are no longer full of odd snacks which I inevitably end up munching while cooking the dinner and secondly the few pounds that I save every time I use cash rather than credit, while seemingly insignificant in themselves, have already amounted to a rather impressive amount.

Coupled with the added ease of paying with cash rather than faffing with the inevitably slow card machine and my debit card is getting far less use. As is my biscuit tin. 

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