Even Paying With Cash Can Now Cost Extra

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Angry woman holding cash at an ATM
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The next time you try to pay for something with cash, don’t be surprised if it costs you a little extra.

In some places, folks who want to pay with physical dollars and cents now must fork over a small fee for the privilege.

The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses that no longer accept cash may direct you to a “reverse ATM.” These cash-shy companies require you to feed dollar bills into the reverse ATM, which then issues a plastic debit card that can be used at that or other retailers.

Typically, you can expect to pay a fee for the service. The Journal reported the story of Noa Khamallah, who was directed to a reverse ATM when he tried to pay cash for popcorn and a soda at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

Khamallah fed $200 into the machine and received a debit card worth $196.50 after a fee of $3.50 had been deducted.

Reverse ATMs are becoming more popular at establishments that no longer accept cash payments, the WSJ reports. In addition, some government agencies have outsourced payments to companies that might charge a fee for cash purposes.

That means trying to pay cash for everything from taxes and tolls to parking tickets could generate a small fee.

Reverse ATMs are already well-established in Europe and Asia, and their popularity is spreading in the U.S., according to Unicorn Group, a payment service provider. As Unicorn Group states in a report about this shift:

“Reverse ATMs are one more step towards a future of digital payments that will largely leave cash in the past.”

Being charged a fee for the privilege of paying with cash is quite a reversal for folks who are used to getting a discount for paying with greenbacks. Retailers, gas stations and others have long preferred cash payments because it helps them avoid having to pay the processing fee associated with credit card purchases.

If you use a reverse ATM, it’s important to be aware of another potential drawback: Unicorn Group says some cards come with a “dormancy fee” that reduces the balance if the card hasn’t been used for more than three months.

So, the next time you head to the ballpark or any other venue, you might want to make sure you bring along a credit card or debit card, just in case.

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