Fifty-five percent of small businesses do not accept credit cards.
Cash-only businesses are losing customers and money by not offering other methods of payment, experts say.
But cash-only business owners may not care, because offering other forms of payment create other headaches.
According to the software firm Intuit, which develops financial products for small businesses, 55 percent of small businesses in the United States do not accept credit or debit cards for payment. That’s almost 15 million out of an estimated 27 million small businesses.
Why would they limit their customer base by refusing to accept payments other than cash or check? There are many reasons.
Simplicity: All you need is a cash drawer, and perhaps a currency counter, to get started. Implementing credit card and debit card payment systems takes time and money. In the case of disputes, or returns, a cash-only business can correct mistakes and refund payments easily.
Avoiding fraud: The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that fraud risk from credit, debit or electronic transactions is far greater than the fear of counterfeit currency.
Accounting benefits: Small businesses need to get track of income and expenditures on a daily basis, and accepting credit or electronic payments can put off the completion of a transaction by a day or two. For businesses that need cash on hand, it is detrimental to be waiting for payments at are scattered through the electronic world.
Expense: Accepting credit card, debit card and electronic payments is not free. There are transaction fees, which is why some businesses that accept card payments will give discounts to those customers who pay with cash. For a small business, paying transaction fees for every purchase is counter-intuitive.
There are negatives to being a cash-only business, but for practical purposes, there is only one: some people don’t want to pay with cash.
In 2012, research shows that only 27 percent of point-of-sale transactions in the United States were made with cash, and an increasing number of Americans prefer plastic or electronic payments to carrying paper money. Intuit says small businesses that do not accept plastic or app payments are losing out on $100 billion in sales annually.
As more transactions occur via smartphone, consumers will only need to carry that device, eschewing a wallet full of cards and a pocket full of cash.
But cash-only businesses will tell you that cash transactions are faster than credit card transactions. As Jonathan Rubinstein of Joe Coffee, a chain of coffee shops in New York, told CNBC, “We do about 250 transactions an hour (in Grand Central Station) and we have it down to a science. Most customers are regulars. They are holding their $2.25 in their right hand and their loyalty punch card in their left. If we try credit cards in there and it adds four seconds to the transaction, it will dramatically change our sales.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.