How Much Cash Should You Carry in Your Wallet?

By Veronica Eisner

Updated July 18, 2023 @ 11:25AM

In This Article

We don’t use cash very often anymore. We use debit cards, credit cards – and sometimes even our phones – to make the vast majority of our purchases. Many of us have even run into scenarios where a shopping aisle, or even an entire store, does not accept cash and prefers the use of cards.

Still, there are many situations where we not only need cash, but we need it unexpectedly. For example, we are in a store and their credit card machines are down, or we need to quickly give someone some money, or a friend paid for lunch and we agreed to get tip. Cash may also be useful in emergencies, where money is needed right away for some type of transaction.

Allett Wallet Opened and Man Handling Cash

So How Much Cash Should You Carry in Your Wallet Anyway?

$100 to $300.

The exact number does not matter too much. What matters is that it is within this range. This number doesn’t come out of the blue. There are very intentional reasons that experts recommend that you should keep somewhere between $100 and $300 in your wallet at all times. These include:

  • Less Than $100 is Not Convenient – Everything is too expensive these days. Those that carry a smaller number, like $40, will frequently find that they don’t have enough when they’re faced with a problem. In addition, even if $40 is enough to cover a purchase, there is likely nothing left after the purchase. That means that if you need cash again before you can get to the bank, you will not have enough.
  • $100 Covers Most Things – Imagine that you are in the checkout line at a grocery store. You scan your card and, for no clear reason, it gets declined. You try again and it gets declined again. $100 (up to $300) is going to cover the vast majority of these purchases, so you won’t have to return all your items or worry about trying to figure out what happened to your card.
  • More Than $300 is a Safety Risk – Carrying some cash is useful. But too much cash can be a liability. The more cash someone sees in your wallet, the more likely they are to see you as a potential target for theft because the risk will be more worth the reward. Too much cash also makes it easier to lose track of bills. If you have $1000 in your wallet, for example, then you may not notice if one of the $100 bills falls out.

The idea of keeping between $100 and $300 in your wallet though is hotly debated. Many people argue that you only need a much smaller number, like $30 to $50, because of how many places take cards these days and how many cards people carry. For example, if you carry 5 cards on you, it doesn’t matter if one or two of your cards get declined – you  have other cards available.

If you’re concerned about carrying too much cash, you can do some quick math based on the number of cards that you carry. If you carry 4 or more cards from more than one bank, you can probably get away with carrying between $40 and $80. If you carry only one or two cards – which is what is often recommended by experts as well – then it’s likely safer to keep $100 to $300, just in case.

Finally, carrying cash is not just about keeping it on you in your wallet. It is also about making sure you have access to more without needing to go the bank. If you can afford it, it is often recommended that you have about $1000 in cash (but not much more) available at your home so that you have a good sum of cash in the event of a disaster. It also gives you a way to quickly get cash if you spend the cash in your wallet.

At Allett, our wallets – including our minimalist wallets – have plenty of space for as much cash as you need. Order your designer wallet, today.



Products mentioned in this article

Accordion Wallet | Nylon Edition

2-15+ cards, folded bills, coins, Micro Pen


Coin Wallet 2.0 | Nylon Edition

4-24 cards, bills, receipts, coins, micro pen


Hybrid Card Wallet | Nylon Edition

3-10 cards, folded bills, micro pen


ID Wallet | Leather Edition

4-12 cards, bills, micro pen


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