US vs. UK (or Card vs. Cash)


I have noticed as of late that I often find myself in the queue at a coffee shop/grocery store/corner market waiting to pay for my goodies, frantically pulling out cash & coinage to pay the attendant. It’s a bit funny to me, because the ‘Life takes Visa‘ commercial frequently runs through my head during this scenario [watch it here]. In the US, cards are commonplace; you use them everywhere, and if you happen to be the token individual that still uses cash (what’s wrong with you?), you throw off everyone’s pattern. No one wants cash anymore, people don’t like to make change (not actually sure if they know how to make change anymore), and cards are quick and easy. In the UK, however, cash is ridiculously common… cards, not so much. The process of using a card here is actually a bit cumbersome as compared to the US. You can’t just swipe, PIN and go; here, you have to insert the card (with the ‘chip’), enter your PIN and wait a good 20 – 30 seconds before anything is actually approved. I swear there’s a little person inside the machine that has to call the bank and get approval before you can walk away with your morning latte. It’s a bit asinine. On top of that, loads of places are cash only [is it still 1995?] and if I do use my card, I feel like everyone behind me is scowling… how dare I use a card instead of good old cash?! Don’t I know that cash is soooo much easier?

I’ve actually become quite accustomed to using cash now. So much so that I can almost count the number of times that I’ve actually used my debit card in store. Most of the time, I use it at the cash machine or for making online purchases in pounds sterling. Definitely an oddity for me… still learning to acclimate, I guess :)

Also weird — 1p & 2p coins. I understand having a £1 and £2 coin, but 1 pence versus 2 pence?? What is the point of a 2p? Long ago, we discovered the uselessness of $2 bills… I can’t imagine a place where we would use a coin that was the equivalent of 2 pennies! I’m sure that material could better be used elsewhere. Jewelry, perhaps.


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