Cash transactions refer to the exchange of physical currency as a payment method. It involves using cash to make purchases directly, without the involvement of electronic payment systems. A typical example is paying for groceries with cash at a local store. Let’s understand them in detail.

What is a Cash Transaction?

A cash transaction refers to exchanging goods or services where payment is made in physical currency, such as coins or banknotes, at the time of the transaction. While the term cash has typically referred to bills or coins, it can also mean bank accounts, cheques, or other money that is easily converted to physical cash, like a digital or electronic payment method. These transactions do not include deferred payments or reliance on credit facilities. Cash payments are typically used for small-value purchases or transactions that require immediate payment.

Understanding Cash Transaction

As said, unlike credit transactions, where payment is deferred, cash transactions require immediate payment upon purchase. The significance of cash transactions lies in their ability to facilitate instant payments and receipts, ensuring a smooth exchange between buyers and sellers.

Historically, cash payments have been prevalent since ancient times when coins were used as a medium of exchange. However, with technological advancements, electronic methods like credit cards and online banking gained popularity in the 21st century. Despite this shift towards digital payments, cash payments continue to coexist as they offer convenience for small-value purchases and are widely accepted across various sectors.

There are different means of cash payments, including physical currency notes and coins, debit cards that deduct funds directly from your bank account, and mobile wallets that store digital money for easy transactions. Record-keeping practices for cash payments involve maintaining receipts or invoices to track expenses accurately.

Example of Cash Transaction

To understand the concept of a cash transaction, let’s consider an example involving a debit card purchase at a store. Imagine you walk into a store and decide to buy a bottle of water. You choose to pay using your debit card. When you swipe your card, the payment for the bottle of water is immediately deducted from your bank account. This is a cash payment because it involves the immediate exchange of payment via electronic funds transfer.

Now, let’s distinguish this from a credit card purchase. If you had used a credit card instead, no immediate payment would have occurred. In such a case, the actual payment for the bottle of water would only be made when you settle your credit card bill later.

It’s important to note that there are legal requirements for reporting cash transactions above a certain threshold amount in India. If you engage in cash transactions or payments exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs in value during a financial year, you must report those transactions to the Income Tax Department under Section 269ST of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Failure to comply with this reporting requirement may attract penalties.

Difference Between Cash Transaction And Credit Transaction


Cash Transaction

Credit Transaction


A cash transaction refers to an immediate exchange of physical currency for goods or services. It involves the direct payment in cash at the time of purchase.


A credit transaction is a delayed payment method where goods or services are received upfront, and the payment occurs at a later date.

Timing of Payment

In cash transactions, payment is made immediately at the time of purchase. The customer pays with physical currency or a digital payment method, ensuring instant settlement.


The actual payment is made after a certain period, often through credit card bills or EMI options.


Nature of Payment

Cash transactions involve the settlement of payments using physical currency notes or coins and electronic payment instruments. It provides a tangible form of value exchange between parties.


These methods rely on digital records and promise to pay instead of physical currency.


Purchase Process

In cash transactions, customers select items and make immediate payments using physical currency or debit cards.


Customers select items upfront but do not make an immediate payment.

Risk and Security

Cash transactions offer security as they do not involve any illegitimate form of currency that may be vulnerable to fraud or hacking. However, there is a potential risk associated with handling physical money.


Credit transactions provide convenience as they eliminate the need for carrying cash. However, there is a risk of accumulating debt and potential security concerns related to online payments.


Income Tax Charges and Limits

According to the Income Tax Act, any cash transaction above Rs 20,000 for a single transaction or aggregate transactions exceeding Rs 2 lakh in a financial year are subject to certain reporting requirements.

No such limits

Financial Impact

Any additional charges on cash transactions can impact liquidity since businesses need to have enough cash on hand to facilitate these transactions.

No impact on liquidity.

Merchant Perspective

Cash payments offer the advantage of receiving immediate payment. There is no need to wait for credit approval or deal with potential transaction fees.

Credit transactions may require businesses to wait for approval and may incur additional costs, such as transaction fees.

Consumer Perspective

Cash payments require enough physical currency or bank balance on hand for purchases and are ideal for small payments.

Credit transactions offer convenience and are particularly useful in situations where carrying large amounts of cash may not be practical or safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the limit for cash transactions?

The limit for cash transactions in India is set at ₹2 lakhs. Cash transactions above this limit are considered illegal and can attract penalties and legal consequences.

2. How many types of cash transactions are there in any bank?

There are two main types of cash transactions in any bank: withdrawal and deposit. A withdrawal refers to taking money out of your account, while a deposit involves adding money to your account.

3. How do I handle cash transactions in my business?

To handle cash transactions in your business, follow these steps:

  • Set up a cash register or drawer to securely store cash.
  • Record all cash transactions accurately in your books.
  • Reconcile your cash register with your books regularly.

4. What is the best way to keep track of cash payment?

In a cash payment, payment is made using physical currency or its digital equivalent, while a credit transaction involves deferring payment to a later date. Cash payments are immediate and do not require any third-party intermediaries.

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