This is my article originally published in the Union County NJ Senior News/Third Wave News Nov/Dec 2022 Edition.
We have all noticed how cash is being used less and less. No longer do people search through their wallets for the correct dollar bills. Instead, they tap a credit card or wave their phone at a machine during checkout and they’re on their way. This holiday season, there are many options when it comes to paying for your shopping, food and entertainment. Just a tap of a smartphone is now a substitute for cash.
The shift to cashless payments accelerated with the growth of online shopping. Online shopping has allowed consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the internet using a range of different computers and devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. It enables shoppers to use “search” features to find specific models, brands or items and to easily compare a product’s availability and pricing at different “e-retailers.”
Convenience is the number one advantage to shopping online. Online purchases can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Delivery can also be arranged directly to a gift recipient. No more need for you to package the items yourself and go to the post office and pay for shipping a second time. This is especially cost efficient if you need to send gifts internationally and are able to use an international site such as Amazon.uk.com. And, if you’re purchasing online, tracking orders and delivery status are generally available, so you’ll know when your gifts arrive.
The top online shopping sites are Amazon, Ebay, Walmart and Etsy. But there are thousands of others including sites from department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdales and specialty shops like Williams-Sonoma and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Paying for online purchases with actual cash is not an option. And, regardless of whether you create a personal account or check out as a guest, using a credit card requires you to provide payment information.
It is a good idea to delete your payment details as soon as you place your order. Sites like Amazon, Walmart, Chewey, and others will automatically save your card details when you check out. Some people are afraid to delete them for fear their order won’t go through, but once you receive your order confirmation, you can safely delete them. While it may be convenient to store card details in an online store, there is a risk that they can be hacked.
LINKING TO YOUR BANK OR CREDIT CARD
Whether it is purchasing gifts online, going out to eat at a restaurant or using a food delivery service, payments can also be easily linked to your bank account or to a specific credit card. Ride service companies such as Uber and Lyft also set up accounts this way and no cash or credit card information ever changes hands during travel. And, in many stadiums and concert arenas throughout the country, buying refreshments can no longer be paid for with cash! Options include:
Pin Debit. These are typically transactions where a customer taps or inserts the card and then inputs his or her PIN into a keypad. They also include contactless payments with either cards or virtual wallets as they also use the same form of online verification for the payment.
PayPal. Founded in 1998, PayPal is one of the oldest and most trusted online payment methods worldwide with over 300 million users. When you open a PayPal account you provide PayPal with your bank or credit card information. Then, when you pay with PayPal, you simply log on to the app. The retailer does not see your PayPal password or the numbers of the underlying accounts. PayPal keeps transactions secure and offers buyer protection should you not be happy with a purchase and have trouble getting your money back.
Venmo. This service allows you to send and receive money to friends and family with a social network twist. Using their email and account information money can be immediately transferred between your account and theirs—like when a restaurant bill gets split and your friend wants to pay her share directly to you. The app requires parties to link their bank accounts or credit/debit cards. Some stores accept Venmo which is facilitated through a QR code that you can scan on your smartphone.
Apple Pay. The world of Apple is ever-increasing and the Apple wallet can do more than just hold tickets. Apple now allows users to send and receive money through iMessage, and make purchases online and in stores with a linked credit/debit card or bank account. (Google Pay offers the same service for android phones) Transactions are authorized by a PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition from the customer depending on their device’s technology.
Zelle. This app is yet another way to send and receive money that goes directly into your bank account within minutes.
A WORD OF CAUTION
There are many scam websites on the internet and some are set up for outright credit card fraud. It is best to go directly to an online retailer and not through an email link. Phishing scams can look incredibly realistic and they ramp up considerably during the holiday shopping season. A very common scam is an email supposedly from a payment service such as PayPal telling you that your account is not working and giving you a link to log on to fix things.
The times, they are a changing…Happy Holidays!
If you'd like guidance in choosing the right cashless payment system for your needs, set up a session with me today! I'd be happy to go over all of these options with you!