Contactless payments have been around for a while now, although it is only recently that almost all banks have started to offer the service on both credit and debit cards.
Contactless technology is no longer exclusive to cards, smartphones now have the same capabilities via apps such as Apple and Android Pay. There are numerous benefits to contactless payments; they’re extremely fast and convenient, they’re secure and safer than carrying cash.
However, they could be having a negative effect on your personal finances. According to research from ClearScore (which they have now taken offline), 59% of Brits admit that not handing over physical cash has led them to overspending at the tills. On top of that, 72% admitted that contactless technology has encouraged them to make more impulse purchases. Perhaps more shockingly, 40% of shoppers admit that they’ve lost track of their spending due to the ease of ‘digital spending’, with 25% confessing to missing a bill and 15% defaulting on a loan.
Given the severity of some of these figures, we’ve come up with a handful of top tips to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of unnecessary spending on contactless cards or apps.
1. Don’t make impulse purchases
This may seem blindingly obvious but it’s one of the simplest ways to save cash (we go into more detail in this article). Avoiding buying items the first time you see them not only makes you question the necessity for the item, but it gives you a chance to save money by shopping around if you decide you still need it.
2. Realise that contactless changes nothing
Just because you may be able to purchase something without physically handing over cash and seeing in real terms how much it’s costing you, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still spending money. If you are thinking of purchasing something, question whether you’d be willing to go to an ATM and spend cash on it. If you wouldn’t, then don’t use contactless.
3. Uninstall contactless apps
If you have found yourself overspending or making impulse purchases with contactless apps such as Apple or Android Pay, clear the balance and uninstall the app. This may seem a little drastic but it completely removes the chance of falling into the trap of contactless overspending again and for that reason, it’s worth doing.
4. Keep a regular check on bank statements
Just as you’d check your purse or wallet before making a cash payment, check your balance before making a contactless payment. The introduction of online banking has meant that you can access your balance within 30 seconds regardless of where you are, providing a data connection is available. If you’re in any doubt as to whether you can afford it – leave it on the shelves.
5. Track spending in a budget
As we’ve preached in numerous previous posts, keeping a monthly budget is the ultimate way to stay on top of your finances. By always knowing how much money you’ve got going in and out each month, you can make educated judgements on whether you’re able to afford any given purchase.
Whilst contactless technology may provide a convenient, secure and quick method of making payments, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t change anything. Think of scanning your card or phone in the same way as you’d think of handing over cash. Question every purchase and plan your spending around a monthly budget – this will ensure you’re well on your way to personal finance success!