Cash or credit card | How do I pay in the US?


Cash or credit card, how do I do it right?

Back in 2013, prior to our first trip to the US, we wondered a bit about how paying in the US would work. If you use cash or credit card, what's the best, what do we take with you?

For us, of course, it was very helpful to have a family in the US who could tell us exactly how it is paying.

My son, who has been living in California for some years, said to me, "Mom, the US is the land of credit cards , you can pay anything here by Visa or MasterCard."

I asked him what it would be like if I just got a coffee at Starbucks or a burger at In and Out. He explained to me that you can of course pay in cash but actually do not do that in the US. It is quite normal to pay even small amounts with the credit card, even the parking meters work with it.

You really only need cash for tips or sometimes for gum machines or something similar. He said that it makes no sense to take a larger amount of cash, also because you usually get a worse course in Germany.

We asked our house bank for the credit cards and then decided on a gold and a silver Mastercard.

The golden Mastercard includes travel cancellation insurance and health insurance for both of us. This is much cheaper than taking out these two insurance policies separately. The silver is in case of loss or. Defective, the replacement service should not work quickly.

You would not be able to check in without a credit card in any hotel in the US. Also to get a rental car would be very difficult, because for the payment of the deposit only the credit card is accepted. Even the ESTA, the travel authorization to the US can only be paid by credit card. Traveling without credit cards in the US is very difficult, almost impossible.

A little afraid to lose track, if I pay everything with card, I already had. I've cleared all the evidence and also written everything in a notebook for safety. A big problem for me in the restaurant was to give the waiter my credit card, as I imagined what he could do with it. But in the meantime, paying in the US with credit cards works smoothly and there have never been any problems.

But there are also a few exceptions where cash is also required in the US. Wholesale stores such as Costco or Sam's Club do not accept credit cards. But since you need a club card and must be a member that is not relevant for tourists.

Since I really enjoy shopping there and my family of course has this club card, I always take cash, because there you can buy well.


  • ohh I have to say but come to me, the payment of the Americans are very accommodating! I hate cash and if possible pay ALL with the debit card 😉 alone, that the wallet is not that hard because of that, I find super enjoyable 🙂

    Best wishes too and a nice 3rd Sunday of Advent,
    ❤ Tina from

  • Juhu my love!

    I must confess that I also like to pay cashless, is simply simpler ... the disadvantage is that you often spend more than you want! 🙂

    Best regards!

  • Since I'm not a friend of cash, I would never have any problems in the US. On the contrary, I found it very pleasant to be able to pay everywhere via card.

    Greetings Daniela

  • Everything has pros and cons. In some situations, I also prefer to pay with ATM card in other, preferably in cash. Especially with the credit card it can be just that you just lose track of the expenses. I am glad to have none.

  • That is already almost in Germany mitterweile so that nothing works without cards .... but I can imagine that this is even more extreme in the US. Thanks for this informative article!

  • Nice post and I love to pay with cards. My family always laughs at me because I never have any cash with me 😉

    All the best,

  • I almost only pay in cash, but my husband is only traveling with his card. 😀

    Nice informative post.



  • I also think that here in Germany, the credit card is on the rise. Recently I had to use it at the gas station because my debit card had a mistake and I had no cash.

  • Paying for everything by card is of course much easier, but somehow I prefer to pay with cash. I think you have a better overview of what you spend and what you still have. 🙂 Very interesting post.

  • Uff, I hate to pay by card! I like it better when I can pay cash.
    With map you can quickly lose track and you're already sitting there with a lot of debt.

  • Whenever I read such a thing, I think again that we are the most regressive country in the world. With us you can not pay even with penny by credit card;))

    LG Anni

  • Dear Sigrid,

    I have always enjoyed being able to pay in the US with credit card, because in Ö this is not so common and you are often looked at awry. That there are also shops where you can not pay by credit card, I did not know. But as you say, that's not a problem for tourists like me anyway.

    Greetings and have a nice evening!

  • Hello my dear!
    Yes you are right, you really do not need cash. We did not know that before our trip to New York and then quickly used up the cash there and then just everything with credit card paid 😀 Even a toilet I payed by credit card haha ​​🙂 Greetings Jacky

  • Yes, that as much as paying in Germany with cash is almost a bit behind the times. In some Scandinavian countries homeless have only one credit card ... Can you imagine.
    LG, Silvie

  • I also remember how stunned I was that in America I could only pay by credit card. Since this principle has promised me a lot, I am always amazed when you can not pay with a card in Austria / Germany 😀 I have become a total fan of cashless payments 🙂

    Lovely wishes
    Alina: *

  • That's what I like about the USA. Unfortunately, I am also a person who usually has no cash and then always taken by surprise when the card payment is not possible or only from a certain amount. I really enjoyed that in the USA. Of course, one gets very quickly tempted to lose track. 😉

    Lovely wishes,
    Jen from

  • I'm critical of paying by credit card. Of course, I also have a credit card and use it, but I prefer to have a full overview of my costs and expenses and I just have it, if I pay cash if possible. Unfortunately, I'm not the type to write down and like to drop. There would be a lot of discipline for me here.

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