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Never Pay These 8 Bills With Cash or a Check

PeopleImages / Getty Images/iStockphoto
PeopleImages / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The financial world has come a long way from when cash was used for every transaction. In fact, according to the San Francisco Fed, only a minuscule 18% of transactions are now made in cash. For the most part, this is a good trend.

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Using other forms of payment, such as a credit card, can provide a host of benefits, from making transactions more secure to removing the need to carry large sums of cash. Some bills in particular, however, are particularly suited to non-cash transactions, including the following.

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Business Related Bills

Businesses require careful tracking of income and expenses for several reasons. Not only is it an essential step in calculating your gains and losses, but it’s also necessary to have a paper trail when you file your taxes, particularly if you intend to take deductions. If you pay with cash, it’s much harder to document transactions to the IRS, and some of your deductions may be disallowed.

Utilities and Essentials

One reason that you don’t want to pay cash for essential services like utilities is that you don’t want to forget to pay them. Plus, it removes the hassle of having to travel to your utility providers’ offices every month just to pay your bill. Use a credit card and/or automate your bill pay so your lights never get turned off unexpectedly.

Service-Oriented Charges

If you’re paying for a service, you definitely don’t want to use cash. Service-based transactions carry a higher level of potential dissatisfaction, and if you pay with cash, it might be hard if not impossible to get your money back. For example, if you pay someone with cash to paint your wall or detail your car and are unsatisfied with their work, they can pocket the cash and go on about their day. If you use a credit card, on the other hand, you can usually dispute the charge and get your money back.

Appliance or Costco Purchases

When you buy major appliances, you typically receive a warranty from the manufacturer for a certain period, such as one year. If you pay cash for that purchase, that’s all you’ll receive. But if you use certain credit cards, your warranty will be automatically extended. This is particularly true if you shop at Costco, where using the store’s credit card will generally double the warranty you receive on items like appliances and computers.

Bills That Could Give You Cash Back or Big Rewards

In addition to providing other protections, many credit cards will give you cash back or other rewards for buying specific items. For example, if you use some credit cards to buy gas, you can get 4-5% cash back on that purchase. Other common cash-back or points/miles rewards are issued for airline and hotel purchases, dining and entertainment. If you’re going to be making those purchases anyway – and you can pay your balance in full every month – it makes sense to be rewarded for them.

Non-Reputable Sellers

If there’s ever a time to avoid using cash for a transaction, it’s if you’re dealing with a seller that you don’t know. Regardless of how good a deal may seem, never pay cash to an unfamiliar person. In fact, the better a deal seems, the more you should be cautious if you’re using cash. If you pay with cash, you have no recourse if the item you’re buying is fake or of poor quality. As soon as the seller walks away with your cash, it’s gone.

Travel Purchases

In most cases, it’s hard to make travel purchases with cash – and that can be a good thing. Many travel credit cards give you a wide range of benefits that you might not even be aware of. In addition to the points or miles that you can earn from card purchases, most travel-oriented cards offer numerous consumer protections, from lost luggage protections or trip cancellation and interruption insurance to car rental insurance and more. Plus, getting refunds or making disputes on travel purchases is much easier when you have paid with a card than with cash.


The primary reason why you want to avoid using cash for certain transactions is that you’re risking not being able to get that money back if things go wrong. A secondary reason is that you can earn benefits from using credit cards to make certain types of payments. But if you can’t afford to pay off your credit card balance every month, no amount of benefits or rewards are going to make up for the amount of interest you’ll have to pay. So, yes, it’s advantageous to use credit cards to make certain payments, but only if you have the financial discipline to pay off what you spend.

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This article originally appeared on Never Pay These 8 Bills With Cash or a Check