Should my business take cash or card?

Should my business take cash or card?

No matter what size your business, there comes a time when you have to consider which is best for your transactions: cash or card!

Even before the pandemic, studies were showing consumers using more debit cards (whether physical cards or smartphone equivalents) than cash for payments.

For many small businesses, this can be a problem. That’s because every time a purchase is made the business is charged by the company that owns the card machine.

We know of one small food business that has had to stump up in excess of £300 a month in card machine fees as customers switch to card payments. Such is the impact on the business owner, however, they’ve asked customers to use cash where they can.

But that’s not the case for every business. Those selling higher-priced items understandably see problems in needing to have so much cash on their premises. So, the question remains: is cash still king or have cards taken the crown? And what does that mean for your business?
Here’s what you need to consider.

Should my business take cash or card?

The first point to make is that businesses can take both. But some businesses have, since the pandemic in 2020, opted to take card only.

Despite protests by some consumers, it is not illegal to refuse to accept cash. While businesses are required to allow cash payments to pay for debts, shops can refuse cash as ‘legal tender’. That’s because legal tender is a term that legally allows a debtor to pay a creditor with cash in court settlements.

Complexities and legalities aside, should you take cash or card only?

Card only payments

Choosing to accept only cards can have a number of benefits. These include:

  • Banks making cash difficult to use: With ‘hole-in-the-wall’ machines and bank branches closing, it’s more difficult to use cash. The hassle of earlier closing times mean many businesses find cash there’s an issue when trying to put cash into their accounts.
  • Cashing up: Before cards, shops and other businesses needed to stay back after closing to cash up. Spending time on the till float and counting the money takes time, especially if there’s an error. This can mean working later. So, choosing card only payments saves the headache and time.
  • Attracting customers: Most people under a certain age find the idea of carrying cash an alien concept. Why mess about when you can simply tap your phone or card? Younger customers may use competitor businesses if they can’t use with their only payment method.
  • Fewer queues: If you take card the transaction is swift – providing the internet works well! Bars often take card only because it prevents queues as cash slows things down.
  • Fewer risks: Having cash on your premises can be a magnet for thieves. By not having cash on the premises, it can also reduce insurance premiums as the chances of theft is reduced. Also, cash can be easily counterfeited. If you then try to bank fake notes or coins, you’ll be refused and then lose income! Card payments take away the chance of accepting fake money.


Cards are digital transactions and require a machine to read them. If there is a connection issue, the card machine breaks down or you have power issues, you can’t take payments. Cash might be a great back-up in these cases. Also, the money takes time (often days) to reach your account. A big drawback when taking card only payments is there is a cost per transaction. Card machine providers’ fees vary, so do your research.

Cash only payments

While cards have their benefits, taking cash does, too. Here’s why.

  • It’s still popular: Around 3 million people in the UK rely on cash for everyday purchases. Accepting card only means you cannot provide goods or services to those people. Not everyone can access cards but they can use cash.
  • People who budget: Some people are on strict budgets, especially with the rising cost of living. They prefer using cash as it’s easier to budget and manage. Not accepting cash means they can’t use your business.
  • No IT issues: Connection issues can be a headache for some businesses, especially in remote areas. Taking cash means it doesn’t matter how many bars someone has on their smartphone or whether the card machine’s working.
  • No transaction fees: You won’t have to pay any fees to a card machine provider if people are choosing to pay you in cash. Card payments attract a percentage in fees no matter how small. Not paying machine providers means more income and profits.
  • Instant access: If you have daily costs in your business, having access to cash is immediate. You can use cash, for example petty cash purchases, without having to wait for payments to clear. Also, you don’t need to visit a bank to withdraw money. Of course, you must make sure you keep a record of what you’ve done with the cash.


Taking cash can be perfect for small retail businesses, but remember that when banking it, there might be a charge from your bank for deposits. Also, it’s easier for cash to be stolen or even lost, especially if coins roll under fixtures and fittings!

What’s best for you?

So, should take card or cash? It all depends on your business, your approach to risk and who your customers are. If they’re exclusively younger, then card only might make the most sense.

Many small businesses don’t need to worry as they invoice and are paid by BACS. Some may even accept the odd cheque – but the use of these is becoming rare.

As with any business decision, you need to consider all options before making the decision.
If you would like advice in making your business decisions, talk to our team today. It’s free for an initial consultation, so contact us today or fill in the form below.