There has been much talk lately about society moving toward a cashless economy. Some European countries such as Sweden and Switzerland have very nearly accomplished this. Without meaning to, I have been contributing to this transition. With the advent of “rewards cards” I charge virtually every bill and purchase. The 2% cashback “reward” far exceeds the paltry interest that savings or checking accounts generate today. Of course, I always pay the monthly balance off in full, and I rarely carry more than $20 on my person.
I recently traveled to visit my Mother in Illinois. Shortly after my arrival I received an email notice of a very large unauthorized charge to my credit card. I called the card company and notified them of the potential fraud. The current card was immediately suspended, and I was assured that new cards were being rushed to me and would arrive in 3 days. The problem was that the cards would arrive in Kansas City and I was 480 miles away near Chicago.
I checked my wallet and true to form there was only one crisp $20 bill… enough to get me MOST of the way back home. Fortunately, I had a debit card that I never use buried in my wallet. I even had to call Christine to get the PIN. The first ATM I stopped at grabbed my card and would not let it go. The machine made a sickening chewing sound that I feared was the nether end of my card being consumed. After a few very anxious minutes the ATM displayed a message that it was out of cash. It then politely invited me to retrieve my card. I wasted no time and later found another ATM that was more accommodating to my needs.
Cash flush, I had the opportunity to consider the plight that could have been mine. I would have been forced to swallow my pride and beg a loan from my 92-year-old Mother. Horrid! The thought of a reprise of these events in the middle of our trip to Europe was even more terror inspiring. I called the credit card and applied for a second separate account. They were happy to oblige and thus the two “backup cards” are now on their way to us.
The lesson in all of this is that the abandonment of currency is not without its perils. Cash deserves more credit.
Peace Everyone. Pete