Brits Most Fear Cards Being Declined on Dates and at Supermarkets

We recently conducted some research about the scenarios in which people would feel the most embarrassed to have a card declined when it came to paying the bill. Whilst 30% of men dread having card problems whilst out on a date, 40% of women most fear having their card declined at the supermarket checkout.

Over 2000 people were surveyed, and the results showed that as many as 48% of them are getting into trouble because they have forgotten their pin, or had their card locked.


Men and women seem to have different concerns regarding card failure and finances. Females are worried about their reputation within the workplace. Almost 30% of women are anxious about being shown up in front of work colleagues or clients by being unable to pay their own way. However, women appear to be more confident in their abilities regarding finances; compared to men, more females describe themselves as being excellent at their own financial management.

Men aren’t overly concerned about their colleagues’ opinions when it comes to card failure. Their fears remain firmly within the dating arena, with 25% of men dreading the embarrassment of their date having to rescue them by settling the bill.

Embarrassing Person to Pay


Interestingly, people would be less embarrassed to have their card declined in front of their friends than in front of their partner. This could reflect our desire to be on an equal footing within relationships, or our desire to be thought of as dependable by partners. The results also highlight that some of us find it easier to talk to our friends about our finances than our partners.


Young adults worry most about card problems occurring in a dating scenario. This is perhaps to be expected as more people will be dating at this stage in their life, than when they’re older. Young people do seem to be struggle financially though, with 40% of them having had their card declined.

British People Having Credit or Debit Card Declined

Keen to prove their independence, people in their late twenties would despair to be seen struggling with finances in front of their parents. Pensioners feel most uncomfortable if their friends have to pay for them, but despite these concerns, they consider themselves to be excellent at managing their own finances.


Two-thirds of Londoners rank their own financial management as excellent. However, over half of them forget their pin, and they most fear a work colleague having to bail them out of the resulting sticky situation.

Birmingham residents are the worst for have their cards declined, as it happens in Birmingham almost 20% more than anywhere else in the country. Despite this flaw, they consider themselves to be excellent at managing their finances, ranking themselves the best in the country.

Top 3 Best and Worst Cities for Managing Finances

Cardiff is where most people forget to sign the back of their card, but the figure for this was surprisingly high all over the UK, with 27% of people owning up to it. This could be a growing trend for recent times, due to the focus having shifted to pins and contactless payment methods rather than the traditional signature.

Supermarkets & Dating

Every city within the UK, apart from Dublin and Glasgow, worries most about having a card declined at the supermarket checkout. It’s an understandable concern, as the supermarket is a location we all use frequently, and it’s certainly going to be awkward to find that you can’t pay when you have all your bags of shopping sat there bagged and waiting. It’s also a scenario in which may well find yourself alone, without a friend, partner, or colleague to help you out.

Dating isn’t far behind as a most feared scenario for card failure, and this is probably more about making an impression than anything else. People want to show their best selves in a dating situation, and having a card declined would no doubt feel mortifying.

The Issues

People are clearly worrying about their finances, and they are right to be concerned; 30% judged their own financial management to be less than up to scratch.

People are incredibly busy, so managing their finances isn’t always at the front of their mind, but there are some serious issues lurking behind some of the more awkward experiences people are having when settling their bills. The trend indicates that many of us are spending beyond our means, so that when we come to use our card, the money simply isn’t there.

Top Seven Tips for Managing Your Finances

If you find it a bit tricky to keep track of what you’re spending, try using our top seven tips to keep you on track:

  1. Keep a regular check of your bank balance. It’s so easy to do these days, either when you’re drawing cash out from the machine, by using an app on your phone, or looking online.
  2. Make a note of what you spend, either on your phone or in a note book. When you look back at what you’ve spent it may give you an idea of where you can save money e.g. you could cut ten Costa coffees a week down to five, or get rid of the gym membership that you never use.
  3. Don’t use credit cards. If you don’t have the money in the bank you can’t afford whatever it is you’re buying. (However, if you do use one, then pay off the balance monthly, and don’t let the outstanding amount build up, as the interest charges will be high.)
  4. Try not to sign up to too many interest free instalment purchases. The repayments soon add up and you may find yourself unable to live off your monthly income.
  5. You don’t have to buy everything new. The likes of eBay sell anything and everything second hand. High quality furniture items in particular, can be picked up for a fraction of the original price.
  6. Don’t go over your overdraft limit. Banks charge a straight one off fee for going over, however small the amount you’ve gone over by. Keep a cushion of money in your account to stop this happening.
  7. Look at your statements. You need to know what is going out of your account, and when, to keep a better handle of your finances

You can also find some motivational quotes on our previous blog post on Money Mantras.

The Simple Things

With all that being said, not all of the survey results we received were concerning. People get caught out simply because of how busy their lifestyle is. In Sheffield, for example, people are most likely to struggle with card payments because they leave the house having picked up their partner’s card instead of their own.

We often feel judged by others when we have financial issues, even though some problems arise out of simple mistakes. People want to be thought of as successful, and money is a big part of that. Mistakes are easily made though, and it’s important to remember that people have embarrassing hiccups even when they are in the best financial shape.