I Prefer Cash

I was given a Target gift card today. Just in time, too, because it's one of those lean weeks where I will probably have to dip into my emergency fund for some bullshit amount like $35 or so.

So, since I needed gas, I used it at a gas station. I just bought $5.01 worth of gas, because I wanted a snack at McDonald's. I figured I'd have $19.99 left for snacks, pet food and whatever else I thought I needed.

I order, then hand over the card. Declined. Since I want my snack, I go to the bank and check my balances. I head to another McDonalds's and give them the gift card. Declined. So I give my credit union card and get my food.

Since the card worked at the gas station, I decide I might just as well put the rest of the gift card into my car. Declined again. WTF?

So I get online and find out that the gas station is going to hold the entire amount of the card (a preauthorization fee) for anywhere from three to seven days until the transaction of $5.01 goes through. Nice.

I predict that gift cards will become the currency of the future. I would not be surprised if companies paid everyone in gift cards.

Which is why cash is king. Cash does not crash, it's never declined, and people in foreign countries will eagerly accept it. Yes, the American dollar has seen better days, but pretty much no one questions a cash transaction, unless it's for a huge amount, like several thousand dollars.

So now I have to wait a few days until I can use the card. I guess in a way this will curb my spending, but it's a little depressing to think that a $5.01 transaction is a full $25, until a few days from now.

I am a guinea pig for a local research outfit. They used to pay me with checks. Someone connected with the research group split and started their own group. This new research group pays people in gift cards. Part of it is a tax thing, one of the staffers explained to me. At least I can choose which gift cards I can be paid in, but if they switch exclusively to Wal-mart gift cards, I will have to make a decision. Continue to be a guinea pig, and accept cards I can only use at Wal-mart, or donate them to a charity. Because I hate Wal-mart.

But don't think it can't happen. We are turning into a gift card nation. And I wouldn't be surprised if we are paid in plastic one of these days. And they can "preauthorize" purchases, so just realize that the $5.01 you put in your tank is going to be noted as a purchase on the ENTIRE balance of the card, until the transaction goes through.

Happy future to you too!

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