Every swipe of your credit card is costing someone. It may be easier for you to carry plastic, but that convenience comes at a big cost to retailers.
In fact, Visa and Mastercard just reached a historic settlement. As customers, we may see a price hike, especially from smaller businesses where any fee is going to make a difference. At larger stores we may see something new – in the form of a special discount offered if you pay in cash.
At the Salvation Army, most people pay with plastic.
"Credit card sales represent 55 percent of all our total transactions at our stores," explained Paul McFarland.
With every charge the store pays a swipe fee, on average two percent.
So when someone pays in cash, the profit margin is a little higher than when they charge it.
"All of our profits stay here in town and support our adult rehabilitation program here," he said.
There may be a bigger price to pay.
The credit card industry settled a class action lawsuit over those swipe fees they charge stores to process credit cards. Basically, it means retailers could theoretically charge you more now if you pay with plastic. It may make a difference which type of card you use, too.
"There's a fee for every different credit card like Visa, Master or debit. I would never take American Express because it's too expensive," said Silvana Bastone of Casare's of New York.
Specialty cards can cost even more.
"The kind of cards that are some of the higher ones I learned are the mileage cards, the ones where you get the mileage rewards, so if stores were going to start putting surcharges on credit card purchases those would be the type that would get hit first," explained USA Today consumer reporter Jayne O'Donnell.
Small businesses like Casare's of New York that sell pizza for $13 a pie don't have much room for growing fees.
"It's going to ruin my business. I haven't gone up on my prices, and I don't want to. I want to keep my customers," Bastone said.
Even with the potential increase in swipe fees, they'll definitely keep charging at her store and at most businesses.
"Unfortunately, we live in a consumer driven society and so people expect things now," said Robin Vosler of Adonai PR. "They expect it the way that they want it. What that means for a business that's not taking credit cards is literally that they take their business somewhere else."
Discounts for paying in cash could become a new trend in business, from clothing stores to restaurants.
It would be a byproduct of this settlement and the success some gas stations have seen from offering this deal to customers.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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