Contactless: Did I Spend More Money Or Less?

by Meera Pattni

The first time I saw someone use contactless payments was about two years ago, and I remember wondering if it was safe. Couldn’t someone just steal your card or phone and spend all your money?

Silly of me, I know. But considering how easy it is to pay using contactless, I wanted to know if that would make a difference in how much money I am spending.

To test out my theory, I conducted an experiment: I used contactless for three days of the week, and then cash for another three days.

What I found was not entirely what I expected.

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When using contactless, I found it easier to buy more things at once, and would impulsively buy random items that were near the counter.

I would tell myself: “It’s OK, it’s only an extra pound.”

With this mindset, I ended up spending more money than necessary on food and other items I didn’t need. In the first three days of my contactless experiment, I spent nearly £56 pounds ($74.88 dollars). 

On the days I only used cash, I found that I didn’t indulge in impulse purchases. When stopping by a supermarket to buy something, I found myself thinking that I would rather use the ingredients at home to prepare a meal than buy a ready made one.

I also found that I would only spend money when I absolutely knew I needed to, such as paying for a train ticket or topping up my Oyster card. When using cash, I spent a total of £52 pounds ($69.53 dollars) in three days.

Even though I was careful about the amount of cash I was spending, the difference between the two wasn’t as much as I thought it would be. I was under the impression that with contactless, I would be spending more money than I would when using cash, although my cash spending was impacted by the fact that I had to attend a wedding.

Using contactless is definitely a million times easier than using cash, but it is also worse for my budget. £4 pounds ($5.35 dollars) might not sound like a lot of money, but for people like me on a student budget it can make a difference!

Featured Image by HLundgaard on Wikimedia Commons

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