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Cash usage back on the rise in the UK

After a decade of decline against debit and credit cards, cash usage increased last year

Cash is making a comeback with consumers

Cash is making a comeback with consumers

The decline of cash spending has finally bucked the trend of a decade, as UK consumers increased their usage of coins and notes to make payments last year, at the expense of credit and debit cards.

The rise of plastic and card spending has been hard to ignore in recent years, with new methods of paying for goods, such as contactless payment, making it even easier for people to spend money without having the cash pass through their fingers.

Cash and grab

However, new data compiled by the Payments Council, in conjunction with LINK and the UK Cards Association, shows that cash use increased in the UK last year, with consumers and businesses making 20.8 billion in cash payments compared to 20.6 billion in 2011.

As well as breaking the long-term trend of falling cash volumes seen over the last decade, it also marks a move towards people and organisations managing their money on a more physical level.

In 2012, some 7.2 million adults made all of their day-to-day purchases by cash, which is an increase of around 700,000 compared with 2011 – something the report authors say is an attempt by people to more clearly monitor the amount they are spending on a daily basis.

David Hensley, head of cash at the Payments Council, commented: “Cash is still a vital part of our day-to-day lives, and more than half of all our payments are in cash, reflecting its easy use and its wide acceptance.”

Card target

The report revealed that cash machines remain the most popular means of accessing cash, with 66,134 ATMs now located around the UK, 46,069 of which are free-to-use.

Despite almost a third of cash machines charging a fee to withdraw money, 97.2% of cash withdrawals made from ATMs last year were from free-to-use machines, with the average transaction being £66.

The vast majority of transactions were made using debit cards, rather than credit cards; a further indication that people are aiming to manage their money better by avoiding the withdrawal fees and subsequent interest associated with using credit cards at ATMs.