How much cash should I have in my wallet?

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This is ultimately up to you. You never know when your debit and credit cards may not work. Or maybe the machine at the store goes down, and they are only accepting cash. It can throw a wrench into your plans if you do not have cash on hand. 

We’ll break down how to decide the amount of cash you should have on hand so you can help be prepared. 

Deciding on the right amount of cash for you

How much cash you should have in your wallet depends on your personal circumstances. Here are a few things to consider while deciding how much money to keep in your wallet:

  • Your daily expenses: We all spend different amounts of money each day. So, it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer. Consider your commute, the frequency you eat out, and the weekly errands you run. 
  • Where you shop: Do the places you shop at prefer cash? Some businesses incentivize people to pay with cash, so you might be able to secure some savings at your regular spots. Other places prefer that customers pay with cards, so it all depends. 
  • Level of comfort: Your level of security will also inform how much cash you have on hand. Some people feel uncomfortable carrying around too much money. At the same time, others feel weary of being stranded with too little cash in their wallet. 

Is it better to pay with cash or credit/debit card?

Many companies have opted to go cashless based on CDC guidelines, and many of these policies have stuck around. But there are many perks to paying with a card. It is often the quicker and easier option for many situations. 

While paying with a card can be simpler, cash can help you stick to your budget and avoid any fees potentially associated with card transactions. Either way is acceptable and ultimately up to you. As long as the method you pick works for your lifestyle and budget. 

Should I keep cash in my home?

Some people do keep cash at home. It can come in handy if you need money right away. There isn’t always time to stop at a bank or ATM. You never know when you will need a few extra dollars to tip the delivery person. Having cash on hand can give you some additional flexibility. 

6 reasons to keep cash in your wallet

There are plenty of reasons to have money on hand. Here are some of the biggest reasons. 


Minor emergencies always seem to pop up. While it may not be a good idea to carry enough cash for huge emergencies like a sudden car repair, you may need it if a store has card reader issues. They may only accept cash in those situations. 

You may have accidentally taken your card out of your wallet and forgot to put it back. The small emergencies you can run into throughout the day can be endless. It’s always good to have cash on hand for these sudden situations. 

Your card gets declined

Sometimes when you travel, your bank might suspend your card if you did not contact them ahead of time. It’s a simple security measure to help protect your funds. It can take some time to call the bank to get it straightened out. As such, it can be handy to have some money in your wallet. 

Cash only encounters

We have all been in situations where we’re out and expecting to pay with a card, and then we’re told the business only accepts cash. This can happen in restaurants or small stores. Having cash on hand lets you get what you need. Cash is quick and easy. 

Bill splitting

Instead of hassling your waiters to split the check, have cash on hand to split the bill. It can be easier to split a check this way. 

Public transportation

You could stop wrestling with the ticket kiosk and paying with cards at the subway if you had cash on hand. It’s often easier anyway! Plus, you may not have to worry about running into a place that does not accept cards. 


Have you experienced good service and felt embarrassed about not having cash on hand to tip? You can’t always tip with your card for valet, housekeeping, and other services so having cash on hand could prevent embarrassing situations of not being able to leave a tip. 

How to carry your cash

You need options when you carry cash. Try to have a variety of smaller and larger bills if you choose to carry cash. Smaller bills are often suitable for businesses that can’t make the change, but your wallet might become too bulky if you have too many. 

Get more money when you need it with MoneyLion

The point of having cash in your wallet is that it gives you options to pay for what you need when life happens. MoneyLion makes it easy to access cash fast with Instacash up to $250.


How much cash does the average person have in their wallet?

 It varies from person to person.

How much cash should you have on hand for emergencies?

Consider your typical expenses and comfort level when trying to figure out how much money to include in your emergency cash stash.

How much cash should I have while traveling?

Think about the amount you would need for one day in case you experience a banking issue with your debit or credit card. 

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