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An illustration of multiple bills of money.
An illustration of multiple bills of money.
An illustration of multiple bills of money.

Should I get extra cash during a disaster?

Published April 7, 2020.

Four reasons that may be a bad idea.

Some say when disaster strikes, you should race to the ATM to withdraw extra cash to protect yourself. We wonder, why? How does extra cash protect you?

It's always a good idea to keep some cash on hand for emergency food, to repair a vehicle, or get a room at the hotel. But withdrawing a lot of extra cash when a fire, pandemic, flood, or other disaster strikes may actually be your worst possible move. Here's why:

1. Cash is vulnerable. Credit union accounts are federally insured to $250,000, making them far safer than keeping your money under the mattress or in your pocket. If your cash is stolen from your house, car, or wallet while you are dealing with a disaster, you could lose everything. Losses from a stolen debit or credit card, however, often are reimbursed.

2. Cash is not required. With so many secure ways to access your accounts and to pay your bills, there's almost no reason you'll need extra cash during a storm, pandemic, recession, and so on. The safest choice is to let your credit union keep your money safe in the vault, then pay with your handy debit or credit card, or write a check, at the store. Plus, you can pay bills and loans online from your credit union account, or use the credit union's mobile app to deposit checks from home.

Carrying around your personal savings will not protect you from viruses or financial hardship.

3. Cash is tempting. In a disaster, such as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, sporting events, and schools were forced to close during the coronavirus outbreak. So, some disasters mean you may actually need less cash. If you've got it stuffed in your wallet, you may be tempted to spend money you could have been saving in your bank account, earning dividends.

4. Cash is, well, kind of dirty. As regards your personal health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends always washing hands thoroughly after handling cash, because you never know where it's been. It's OK to keep a few dollars on hand for parking meters, yard sales, and other spontaneous purchases, but carrying around your personal savings will not protect you from viruses or financial hardship.


For safe, reliable, and 24-hour access to your cash, open a checking account at STCU. Standard checking is free and STCU dividend checking accounts charges no fee as long as you maintain an average monthly balance greater than $2,500.

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