More cash incentives

Money often costs too much.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m a big advocate for using cash. I’ve mentioned before that the local liquor store offers a discount for customers using cash. Five percent, to be exact.

Why? Because due to the contract they sign with the credit card companies, they cannot charge a fee for the use of cards, nor can they actually say “no credit cards accepted for less than $5.00.” That doesn’t stop some people, but I’m sure most of them aren’t supposed to do it. So instead, the liquor store offers a discount to cash customers.

Now, why would they want to charge a fee or set a minimum purchase for the use of a card? Seems silly, doesn’t it?

It’s not silly. Companies that offer the services of credit and debit machines have to get their pretty penny out of the deal. They often charge a flat per-transaction fee plus a percentage of the charge. Hence the “no credit cards for under $5.00” thing. Charging $1.25 on a credit card can eat up the entire profit on some items.

The increase of using plastic has caused the overhead of retail companies to go up. As the overhead goes up, so does the price you pay for the item…someone’s gotta pay for the costs, and it’s going to be you. That cash-back reward card you use? Thanks, fucker, the burgers at Sonic just went up fifty cents partially because of you. The reward cards incentivize both credit card debt and the use of a payment that costs more than cash or checks. Credit card companies will have their pound of flesh, no matter how you fight.

But retailers are fighting back. I went to the Renaissance Festival with K-chan. She bought a new corset at one of the booths. They said “You can pay with cash, and we’ll cover the tax, or you can pay with a card, and we charge you the tax.” That might not seem like much until you realize that corsets are not cheap and the difference between the two was almost fifteen bucks. I stayed behind as a hostage while she ran to an ATM and paid the exorbitant two to four dollar fee to get the cash, saving her close to ten bucks in the end. There’s multiple reasons why they did this…it’s probably easier for them to deal with cash at the end of the day than trying to send off the credit transactions, in addition to cash being cheaper for them to deal with than cards. They were doing a pretty damn good job of incentivizing cash. K-chan, had she for some reason gone to the liquor store, probably would have just paid with her card, since the difference in price is usually less than a dollar.

Then, as I was driving back home, I saw that the Love’s gas station had done the same thing as the liquor store. There were two diesel prices, five cents different, for cash and for credit. I’m not sure if this is true of all Love’s, or just the one I drove past. But they certainly had it displayed on their big-ass sign. And let’s not mention the fact that checking yourself out at the pump using credit is like checking yourself out at the grocery store…it’s reducing the need for someone’s job.

And so I ask, ye who doubt my words. Why would they incentivize the use of cash like this? Why encourage the use of a currency falling out of favor? A currency that can be stolen from them by the point of a gun? A currency that requires them to hire human beings to handle it (at least at gas stations)? I’ll tell you one thing…they’re certainly not doing it for their health.

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3 Responses to “More cash incentives”

  1. Dargon Says:

    I assume this was the Love’s on 45? They have been doing that for at least eight years.

  2. I am terrible at budgeting. If I withdraw £10 to cover something that is £8.50, I end up spending the change on things I don’t need. So I rely on my debit card (in combination with internet banking) to ensure I have the absolute minimum amount of money I need available at any given time.

    But reading this … I am not so sure about my tactics any more.

  3. It’s typically just credit transactions that store owners are charged for, and not debit. When I shop somewhere I like, and I trust, I’ll do debit transactions instead for this very reason. Unfortunately, I have no way to get cash that doesn’t require an ATM. I really need to get off my ass and open an account at the local credit union. Maybe I’ll do that during a lunch break next week…

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