Credit Cards And Restaurants: Industries Mull ‘Cashless’ Dining Consequences

Consumers today expect to be able use a debit or credit card to buy anything they want — including $5 sandwiches and $3 cappuccinos. Restaurant owners have responded resoundingly: 92 percent of full-service restaurants now take cards, according to Euromonitor data provided to The Huffington Post by Visa. New technology lets even food trucks and tiny vendors in on the action.

“There are very few places that don’t accept Visa or MasterCard, at least,” National Restaurant Association spokeswoman Liz Garner told The Huffington Post. “Restaurant owners feel like they have to take these cards in order to compete.”

As a result, dining is rapidly becoming a cashless experience. Last year, 81 percent of the money spent at full-service restaurants in America was charged to debit, credit or pre-paid cards, up from 72 percent in 2006 and 66 percent in 2004. At quick-service restaurants, many of which only started taking cards in the early 2000s, just 37 percent of sales were charged in 2012, but the trend toward plastic is the same.

At the same time, customers’ insistence that restaurants take cards has allowed companies like Visa, MasterCard and American Express to charge ever-higher merchant fees, leading some restaurant owners to question the value of plastic.

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