I never got why credit cards were such a big deal for merchants, until reading this.
I never got why credit cards were such a big deal for consumers, until I heard this: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/26/736352315/episode-922-the-cos...
What a week of learning about credit cards it has been!
I think our account number was 14? Simple enough for a child to remember.
Around age 9 I was using the account on my own to buy food after school. I'd state the account number, and the cashier would write the credit down with a pen into a special notepad they kept under the cash register.
A recent observation:
Shop to a little girl: What's your Numbra?
Little Girl: 718-.....
Owner comes by: That's Sharon and Jacob's account. You are not his daughter.
Little girls freezes.
Owner continues: Unless you are their niece from Upstate who has come for Christmas.
Little girl visibly relaxes and the grocer bags her items.
With contactless today I guess you can solve it with just one person, but I really liked the two-factor.
And the community service, of course.
For me, it's always been about that buffer between my actual money and the merchant. Sure, credit card rewards programs have been great, but having a middleman who is more or less on my side in all financial transactions is a game changer.
If I use my debit card, the money is out of my possession; it's possible to get it back, but it's not certain, and while I'm waiting for that to happen, I don't have access to that money. (And if I use cash, I pretty much just have to accept that the money is gone the second it leaves my hands.)
If I use a credit card, I still have the money, and can dispute the charge. Even if I don't notice the problem until after I pay my credit card bill, I still have a single entity (who, again, is more or less on my side) who will refund my money if I have a valid complaint, even if the merchant isn't playing ball or is a fraudster.
If you pay your credit card bill off in full every month, you're not paying anything extra unless the merchant charges a premium for credit card transactions. If you carry a balance, you're paying on that, sure, but nothing requires you to do so.
(Also, of course, you might be actually getting 1% or more back on credit card transactions, if they have cash back programs.)
The merchant is paying extra, and that cost is hidden in the price I pay.
If what you really meant is that the cost of the credit card transaction is implicitly in the price everyone is being charged, then sure, I see your point -- except that I think it actually strengthens the original poster's argument for using credit cards! If you pay $25 for a widget in cash and I pay $25 for the same widget on my credit card, then we're literally both paying the same price, but I'm getting the ostensible benefit of using the credit card and you're not. (I would actually argue, unlike the OP, that this is mostly true for debit cards as well, in that you still have a bank fighting to get your money back in a way that isn't true with cash.)
We also have an "EFTPOS" network that is independent of Visa/MC. It's a debit account network owned by the banks that give you access to savings or cheque accounts. It's charges are much lower than Visa/MC, so merchants like when you use it and don't apply a surcharge.
Even cash likely has a higher fee, if not from simple counting mistakes on many small transactions, then complexities like the safe, the risk to employees (insurance), the controller effectively managing the cash each day, the security of a bank truck, and more.
I can understand credit as a natural extension of “running a tab” at a hotel or restaurant—you order now, and settle your account later, for various definitions of “later.” But why would a retailer be interested in offering private/internal credit that they had to manage and settle? Sounds negative-ROI to me.
People would set up accounts at their local stores so all their common daily and weekly errands could be done without cash. Then once a month (after payday) they would take cash around to all the local stores paying their accounts. (Or write a check, I guess)
Stores supported this because it was a form of lock-in, and because it reduced friction. Faster than exchanging cash too, or writing a check.
When working correctly (the customer comes in and pays without prompting) it's super low effort. Especially for stores with only one location and checkout counter. Only really costs time and money when a customer requires chasing up.
You're probably coming from the opposite frame, that requiring cash up front for all transactions was the norm. It wasn't. We've been extending credit and taking on debts for millennia. It's just how money works.
It seems to me that this store credit thing has been very much a US thing, and it probably is the reason why credit-based electronic payment systems took over the US while at the same time debit-based systems accomplishing the exact same goal became dominant in many European countries.
Funny thing: when it comes to gasoline, the roles are reversed. In the US, you get no gas if you don't first go into that store and prepay or provide a credit card that guarantees a payment. In most of Europe, you just drive up to the gas pump and fill up, and then you go into that little store in order to pay.
But it should be pointed out that those numbers are in the context of a quote from ~1958. Back then, postage was $0.04. Also, $4.58 and $12.82 (as examples) would be worth $40.52 and $113.41 today. So I'm not actually sure if a 6% charge on sales would be worth it here. I don't know what the cost of labor would have been back then (assume minimum wage in that area in 1958 maybe). Anyway, the point is the numbers don't seem as alarming and obvious to me after looking up postage and inflation at the time.
For setting up direct deposit at most workplaces (in the US, at least), you just give HR your bank routing and account numbers when you start and that's it. I've never gone through any kind of verification process.
Pocketing this technique for future use!