I forrige uke nevnte vi at Norge og Sverige bruker svært få kontanter. I USA setter merkelig nok bankene selv sine gebyrstrukturer en stopper for dette. Disse straffer de i lavere sosioøkonomisk klasser, noe som igjen gjør at politikerne må tvinge butikker til å godta kontanter.
So if you’re wealthy, it’s much more convenient to put stuff on your credit card and not carry around cash. However, if you’re poor and can’t get a bank account, you basically have to pay for the privilege of having access to a card. For those unable to get a bank account, there is a world of prepaid cards that you might see in grocery and convenience stores. Normally, you’ll pay a small surcharge, say $2 to $5, on top of the balance you add to the card. So if you buy a $100 card, it might cost $102. Then, unless you stay above some minimum balance, you have to pay monthly fees that might be a sizable chunk of your stored balance; the market leader, Greendot, charges $7.95/month for balances under $1,000, so with a $100 balance, that would deplete to almost zero in a year. Then, if you want to withdraw cash, you have to pay an ATM fee to the prepaid card provider, on top of whatever the ATM is charging you.