Cash Is King: Definition, How It Works, and Real-World Examples


“Cash is king” is a widely recognized term in the world of finance. It signifies the superior value of cash over other investment tools or assets. This article explores the multifaceted concept of “cash is king,” its relevance in investments, business operations, and daily transactions. We’ll also discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of this approach, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of its significance.

What is cash is king?

“Cash is king” is a phrase that holds substantial importance in the financial world. It underlines the notion that cash, in its physical or equivalent digital form, holds a superior position compared to other investment tools or assets. The concept of “cash is king” manifests in various domains:

Investment strategy

In the realm of investments, “cash is king” represents a strategic approach where investors choose to maintain significant cash holdings instead of allocating their funds to high-priced securities, such as stocks or bonds. This strategy is particularly relevant when investors anticipate that market conditions will become more favorable in the future. By holding onto cash, they position themselves to capitalize on better investment opportunities when they arise.

Investors who adhere to the “cash is king” philosophy may opt for low-risk, short-term debt instruments or certificates of deposit (CDs) rather than investing in high-yield but expensive assets. It’s important to understand that cash, cash equivalents, and certain short-term debt instruments can lose their purchasing power over time if they fail to offer returns that outpace inflation. Therefore, it’s essential for those employing the “cash is king” strategy to collaborate with financial planners who can assist in estimating future cash requirements and finding suitable investment avenues.

Business operations

In the corporate landscape, “cash is king” takes on a different dimension. Here, it refers to a company’s ability to maintain substantial cash balances on its balance sheet. A robust cash position signifies financial strength and provides flexibility for various business decisions and potential investments.

Having ample cash reserves empowers businesses to cover short-term operational expenses, invest in critical assets like equipment and machinery, and explore expansion opportunities. It’s vital to recognize that more businesses face failure due to cash flow issues rather than a lack of profitability. Maintaining a solid cash position enables companies to weather economic downturns, ensuring they can meet their financial obligations even when revenues are low.

Payment method

Beyond investment and business considerations, “cash is king” also resonates in everyday transactions. Many businesses and individuals prefer cash payments over other methods, such as credit cards or checks, for various reasons:

  • Immediate access to funds: Cash transactions settle immediately, offering quick access to funds compared to credit card processing, which may involve delays.
  • Risk reduction: Accepting cash eliminates the risk associated with bad credit or bounced checks, providing a level of financial security for businesses.
  • Immediate usability: Cash is readily available for immediate use, making it a convenient form of payment for both customers and businesses.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that digital payment methods are becoming increasingly popular in today’s world. The definition of “cash” in transactions has evolved to include electronic forms of payment as well.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Immediate access to funds
  • Reduced risk of payment issues
  • Increased financial flexibility
  • Potential loss of investment opportunities
  • Reduced returns in low-yield environments
  • Managing cash effectively can be challenging

Real-world examples

To illustrate the concept of “cash is king” in action, let’s look at some real-world examples:

Amazon (AMZN)

Amazon, a tech giant known for its disruptive impact on various industries, has consistently maintained substantial cash reserves. In 2017, Amazon made a significant cash outlay to acquire Whole Foods, sending shockwaves through the grocery industry and putting pressure on competitors like Kroger. This move exemplifies how cash can empower a company to make large purchases and reshape markets.

Apple (AAPL)

Apple is another tech industry leader with a substantial cash balance. As of Q3 2022, Apple held a staggering $179 billion in cash. This financial strength empowers Apple to make diverse investments, conduct extensive research and development, expand its retail footprint, and remain financially resilient even during economic downturns. The consistent demand for Apple products contributes to its financial stability.

In both of these examples, cash served as a strategic asset, enabling these companies to seize unique opportunities and maintain financial stability, even in challenging times.

Frequently asked questions

Is it advisable to hold a large amount of cash in an investment portfolio?

While holding cash in your portfolio can be a conservative approach, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Holding excessive cash for extended periods may result in a loss of purchasing power. Consider working with a financial advisor to optimize your investment strategy.

What are some alternative assets for those following the “cash is king” approach in investments?

Investors adhering to the “cash is king” philosophy often consider low-risk, short-term debt instruments, certificates of deposit (CDs), or other cash-equivalent instruments. These provide relative safety while still generating some returns.

Why is maintaining a strong cash position important for businesses?

Businesses benefit from maintaining a strong cash position because it ensures they can cover operational expenses, invest in critical assets, and weather economic downturns. It provides financial stability and flexibility.

What are the potential downsides of holding too much cash?

Holding excessive cash for prolonged periods can lead to a loss of purchasing power due to inflation. Additionally, it may result in missed investment opportunities, especially in high-yield environments.

Key takeaways

  • Cash is king is a financial concept emphasizing the importance of cash in various aspects of finance, including investments, business operations, and everyday transactions.
  • Investors often use the cash is king strategy to hold significant cash reserves and wait for more favorable investment opportunities.
  • Businesses with strong cash positions can weather economic downturns, cover operational expenses, and explore growth opportunities more effectively.
  • While cash offers immediate access to funds and reduces payment-related risks, it must be managed effectively to avoid inflation erosion.
  • Real-world examples, such as Amazon and Apple, demonstrate how cash can empower companies to make strategic moves and maintain financial stability.
View article sources
  1. Why cash flow is more important than profit – University of Nebraska Omaha
  2. Cash is King – Virginia Commonwealth University
  3. Cash Flow is King Workshop Series – Small Business Administration
  4. Cash forecasting is key to strong financial controls – Washington
  5. How to Finance a Business – SuperMoney