Cash has been around for millennia in one form or another and certainly for the older generation it is the default method of payment. 

Most people understand it and it is the simplest way to start to teach your children about money but it may not be the best way to hand over your child’s pocket money. 


So to kick off, let’s look at the benefits of using cash as a way of giving your child some independence. 

  • Using cash can be a good way to help children understand the value of money. When they physically see the money, they may be more aware of how much they have and how quickly it can be spent. 
  • Cash can also be a good way to teach children about budgeting. By giving them a set amount of money and encouraging them to make it last, you can help them develop good financial habits. 
  • Cash is widely accepted and doesn’t require any special equipment or technology. 
  • Cash is a great way of providing spending money when going abroad and helps children learn about other monetary systems. 
  • Cash is great when it falls out of a birthday or Christmas card! 


  • Carrying around cash can be risky, especially if children are going to be walking around in public. There’s always the risk of the money being lost or stolen. 
  • Cash can be inconvenient if you need to make a purchase online or over the phone. In these cases, you’ll need to have access to a credit or debit card. 
  • Many places don’t accept cash today. Since the pandemic, cash has become much less acceptable and many businesses don’t want the hassle 
  • Cash can be bulky and annoying to carry around, especially if you are going to the beach or doing sports. 
  • Cash can often be seen as old-fashioned. You don’t get an app with cash. 


Cards have become the most popular way to pay and since COVID-19 many people prefer the non-contact method of payment.  

Different types of cards are available but for under 18s the most common is the preloaded debit card where the parent adds cash to the account allowing the child to make payments to the value of their available credit. 


  • Using a card can be more convenient than carrying around cash.  
  • Cards allow you to make purchases online or over the phone, and eliminate the need to carry around large amounts of cash. 
  • Many card providers offer features like spending limits and parental controls, which can help parents monitor their child’s spending. 
  • Cards are widely accepted and can be used to make purchases in a variety of different locations. 
  • Cards can often be used in different countries which is helpful if your child is on a school trip or studying abroad. 
  • Cards often come with a management app which allows you and your child to keep track of their spending and budgeting. 
  • Cards can usually be used at ATMs allowing your child to access cash if they need to. 
  • In case of emergency, parents can add cash from anywhere  


  • Using a card can make it difficult for children to understand the value of money. When they don’t physically see the money leaving their account, they may be less aware of how much they’re spending. 
  • Cards can be lost or stolen, and if someone gets hold of the card details, they can make fraudulent purchases. 
  • Some cards may come with additional fees or charges, such as ATM fees or foreign transaction fees. 
  • Not all cards are accepted everywhere so it may be difficult for your child to spend their money. 

Points to think about  

So, should parents use cash or a card when giving pocket money to their children? Ultimately, the answer will depend on your family’s needs and preferences but here are a few other factors to consider:  


Younger children may benefit more from using cash, as it can help them understand the value of money. Older children may be more responsible with a card.  


If you prefer to make purchases online or over the phone, a card may be the more convenient option. If you prefer to use cash, you may need to visit an ATM more frequently. 


If you’re concerned about the safety of carrying around cash, a card may be the more secure option. However, you’ll need to be vigilant about monitoring your child’s spending and keeping the card details safe. 


Summary: Are cards a good option? 

Ultimately, whether you choose to use cash or a card, the most important thing is to teach your children good financial habits.  

Encourage them to save a portion of their pocket money, set clear expectations for how the money should be spent, and have open and honest conversations about money. By doing so, you can help your children develop the skills they need to make good financial decisions throughout their lives. 

Perhaps the most helpful way to think about the card Vs Cash debate is to recognise that it isn’t an either/or question. 

There’s no doubt that there are benefits and drawbacks to both methods so it makes sense for your child to have access to both an electronic payment card and a little cash for when they need it. 

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