Money advice: Alternatives to paying for items with cash

With many shops and services currently preferring contactless payments to cash, you may be finding it more difficult than usual to get help from a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash, buy shopping or top up your energy account on your behalf.

Online banking, bank transfers or PayPal may be the best option for you, particularly if you are self-isolating.

Online banking allows you to:

  • Check your balance, view recent transactions and see your bank statements
  • Make payments to people or organisations
  • Set up and manage standing orders and direct debits
  • Move money in and out of savings accounts.

Banks have different procedures for logging in online and keeping your account safe. For mobile phone users they each have an app that can be downloaded from the Google or Apple store.

PayPal is an online payments service that allows you to pay sellers and people who also have PayPal accounts.

PayPal is very useful now because quite a lot of volunteering and ‘helping hands’ organisations use PayPal to collect payment from individuals for shopping that they fetch and deliver.

To get a free PayPal account you will first need a bank account to link it to. This means that any payments you make by PayPal are taken straight out of your bank account. Also, any money you receive (such as refunds) are put straight back in your bank account too.

Visit the PayPal website to see up a free account and follow the instructions.

Apart from cash, here are some other ways you can pay for things:

  • Online bank transfer –log in to your bank account and transfer money instantly to the bank of the person or organisation you are paying; you need to know their account name, sort code and account number (and be certain these are correct). It’s worth noting that although the transfer is usually instant, the receiving bank may not allow instant access to the money.
  • Online card payment – if you buy something online (such as a supermarket delivery) you will be asked to enter your debit card details at checkout. Be sure the site is one you know and trust and that there is a ‘padlock’ symbol in the browser address bar to confirm the site is secure.
  • Online PayPal payment – ask the seller or person to send you a link that you then click to make the payment via PayPal.
  • Payment by card machine – for small transactions (now under £45) you can simply tap your debit card on the machine; for larger payments you need to insert your card and enter your PIN number.
  • Payment by mobile phone – Apple, Google and Samsung all offer a feature that allows you to link your phone to your bank account, so you can pay for items by tapping your phone onto a payment machine.

The Digital Fife website has a useful free online learning module that guides you through how to set up online banking if you’d like to learn more about your options.

Or if you would prefer to talk to someone for more help with how to set up these sorts of online services, you can contact us for digital help on 01592 583659.