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Banking basics: all about cash

We take a closer look at all things ‘hard cash’ (AKA physical currency). Find out about withdrawals, cashback and deposits here.

4 min read

Back in the old days, cash was everywhere. Before credit and debit cards became commonplace, most people relied on physical bills and coins for their everyday transactions in restaurants, bars, supermarkets and post offices.

Of course, times have changed. Card payments are now so common that trying to pay for things using cash rather than card can seem like a foreign language. While we might not rely on money like we used to, it shouldn’t be disappearing entirely in the foreseeable future. If you’ve ever wondered about the process around making withdrawals, deposits or organizing your travel money, take a look at this article to help you get the most out of your hard cash transactions.

Withdrawing cash

The great thing about credit or debit cards is that they give you access to money without having to physically carry it around, whereas cash demands that if you want or need to pay for something, you need to make sure you have the right amount on you. To access this, you’ll have to withdraw this out of your bank account.

Ways to withdraw cash

The easiest and fastest way to take cash out of your bank account is to use an ATM. You know the drill: put your card into the machine, enter your PIN and choose the amount you want to withdraw. Alternatively, you can go into a branch of your bank and speak with a bank teller, to complete the process in person.

There are a couple other ways to get your hands on your cash, too.

What is cashback?

On the subject of cash, you’ve probably heard the term “cashback”. But what does it mean, and how does cashback actually work?

Cashback actually has two meanings. The first is that it’s another way of withdrawing cash. In some retail stores, you can ask for “cashback” when you pay for something by debit card. That means you can pay, say, an extra €50 on your card and get that €50 handed to you in cash. It doesn’t cost you anything – it’s just like using an ATM.

The second meaning of cashback doesn’t really have anything to do with physical cash. It’s a scheme offered by some credit and store cards that encourages you to use the card by offering a reward in return. So, if your credit card offers 1% cashback, then you’ll get back 1% of the value of all your purchases – for instance, €1 back for every €100 you spend.

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Depositing cash

A packet of gum here and a pizza slice or two there... it’s easy to spend more than you mean to when you find yourself with a handful of paper money in your pocket, and before long, it’s all gone again. To resist a spending spree, one option is to safely deposit your hard cash back into your bank account.

How to deposit cash

The traditional way to deposit cash is to go into a branch of your bank in person, stand in line and then ask the teller to deposit this into your account for you. To do this, they’ll usually ask for your bank card and possibly a form of ID, too.

Some banks also offer the facility to deposit money using their ATMs, which will automatically dispense an envelope for making the deposit when requested. It’s worth noting that the machines with extra banking features are sometimes located inside the bank, and so gaining access can be subject to the bank’s normal opening hours.

Traveling with cash

Cash can be particularly useful when you’re traveling abroad, because card transactions abroad can come with extra charges and regular access to ATMs and card terminals isn’t always possible. Here are some things to keep in mind when taking your money overseas...

How much cash can you take abroad?

Different countries have different rules about how much money you can enter and leave with and most official government or embassy websites will have advice on this. Often, while there isn’t a fixed maximum – you do have to let the authorities know if you’re traveling with more than a certain amount.

Following new legislation in 2018, anyone entering or leaving the EU with more than €10.000 on them needs to declare this to customs. This can involve filling out a form (depending on which country you come from and where you’re going) which you can find on the European Commission website, along with specific details around the rules and requirements between EU countries.

How much cash can you fly with?

There aren’t specific limits for how much money you can take on a plane. Just make sure you’re obeying the laws of the countries that you’re traveling to and from. And, of course, for security reasons it’s always better not to travel with all your spending money at once, in case it gets lost or stolen.

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