To Pay In, With or By? What Is the Correct Preposition?

In the case of referencing a method of payment, the correct prepositions are “in,” “with” and “by.” You can use all three interchangeably and they all mean the same thing. However, it’s important to understand the difference between these prepositions if you want to have a more nuanced understanding.

Of course, whenever you’re in doubt, it’s nothing to worry about. Seeing as how there aren’t any strict rules or guidelines for using “in,” “with” or “by,” you’ll be safe with any one of these.

The Difference in Meaning between “In,” “With” and “By”

Prepositions are important words in English sentences. They indicate temporal or spatial relationships between different sections of a sentence. Each one carries a different tone when in combination with the verb, “to pay.”

The word “in” suggests an encompassment or something that’s inside. “With” is a conjoining preposition that connotes connection. To reference a means of or indicate being next to something, you use “by.”

There is more of a tendency for native speakers to say pay in cash and pay by credit card.

Nuances of Meaning with “In,” “With” or “By”; the Verb “to Pay”

When you use the word “in” as a preposition for the verb “to pay,” it suggests making a payment within a particular method.

I wish to pay in cash.

Using “with” in regards to “pay” indicates making a payment in connection to a particular method.

Are you going to pay with cash?

In the case of using “by” as the preposition for “pay,” it’s the means by which you will pay. But, this could be a due date or a form/method of payment.

She will pay by both cash and credit card.

You have to pay by March 18th or you will incur a late fee.

More Examples

However, to understand how things look and sound, let’s observe some examples using all three prepositions.

Tommy said he will pay by cryptocurrency and cash.

Tommy said he will pay with cryptocurrency and cash.

Tommy said he will pay in cryptocurrency and cash.

The accounting office needs us to pay in credit.

The accounting office needs us to pay with credit.

The accounting office needs us to pay by credit.


Even though there are nuances of difference based on the definition and function of the various pronouns, it isn’t wholly necessary. This is especially true when you’re referring to a method of payment; it really doesn’t matter that much.