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> That 3% is also baked into the price of goods at this point, so youre paying it even when using cash.

Every once in a while, I'll run into places that do a cash discount, usually smaller businesses. It's super common at gas stations - even big chains.

I have to feel its misguided in some cases. Credit card transaction fees hit the hardest on small purchases, as they take a larger percent. A business thats lots of tiny transactions might come out slightly ahead with cash, but now youre losing customers, and maybe not book keeping accurately enough to be legally compliant.

I have noticed gas stations are more prone to this (along with very small business), although it happens on occasion at restaurants as well. I figure, with 3% restaurant rewards, I break even at 3% restaurant charge and or using cash.

Actually a lot of cash only businesses are probably dodging taxes.

Keep in mind that accepting cash isn't zero-cost. You need drop safes, daily pickups by secure courier, and you're at risk of robbery (especially for places open at night, like gas stations.) Depending on circumstances, it can cost more than 3%.

those are all things I put in my first comment above.

The real savings are in not reporting the income for taxes, and even payroll taxes / insurance if you get to pay someone with cash with the cash you're given, and worth much more than saving a few % off credit card fees.

> A business thats lots of tiny transactions might come out slightly ahead with cash, but now youre losing customers

Why would businesses that offers a cash discount (which means they also accept credit/debit) lose customers?

Because card paying members may choose to shop the store where they don't feel like they're losing.

Ie; gas station 1 has a 3c cash discount. Gas station 2 has no discount, but you don't feel like you're not getting the discount. Gas station 3 can even compete by having a 1c credit discount.

I think they meant a business that only takes cash.

For me, even when buying things like new computers, it will cost 3%-5% more if I use a card.

The dominance of cards is mostly American or, at the very least, location-dependent.

where as I feel I pay 2-5% less when using a card. Target and Amazon are both 5% off using the right card, vs 2% on a generic cash back card. Gas is 4% off on the costco card.

At gas stations, the cash price is shown on the signage to lure in customers. They can advertise a lower price (the cash price) than the actual price they charge (as people almost always pay by card, especially when they pay at the pump).

I don't think they expect or want customers to pay by cash.

That's a US thing. In a lot of countries, CC transactions have a surcharge. They also have independent debit networks (not Visa Debit or Cirrus, which uses the Visa/MC Networks) that offer substantially lower merchant fees (often a fixed fee per transaction of equivalent of 0.1-0.5%).

> Every once in a while, I'll run into places that do a cash discount, usually smaller businesses. It's super common at gas stations - even big chains.

That's generally prohibited by the credit card merchant agreement. Gas stations are one of the rare exceptions.

> That's generally prohibited by the credit card merchant agreement.

That is not true.

> Cash Discount programs are legal in all 50 states per the Durbin Amendment (part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Law), which states that businesses are permitted to offer a discount to customers as an incentive for paying with cash.


You are missing the point. The credit cards companies have mandated that the "regular" (that is the main advertised) price is the one you pay by credit card. They don't object to having cash-discount prices, but they want to make sure that people do not perceive that credit card purchases are more expensive. It is all about perception.

Cash discounting is fine in all states. Surcharges are typically prohibited. Gas stations may be exceptional in that some will publicly advertise the dual pricing where allowable.

Surcharges were prohibited by merchant agreements until the big card networks settled a class action lawsuit. As of 2013 anybody can add a surcharge, provided they follow the card network rules. State laws prohibiting surcharges were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2017.




They aren't allowed to charge minimum checkout amounts for cards either. I reported a few businesses before when it was more widespread. Some of them (usually gas stations) put up $10 minimum credit card purchases. If they try to pull that on me I usually just say "you know that's against the terms of your merchant agreement" and they'll sometimes run it.

If you had to carry cash for small purchases that would remove the convenience of cards.

The minimums are annoying but understandable. You pay a flat transaction fee (15-30 cents) plus a percentage of the sale (roughly 1-4% depending on the card type). If you’re doing a lot of small transactions, that 15-30 cents is a huge hit to your margins.

Buying a single pack of gum on a rewards credit card might lose the merchant money. They’ll make up for it in aggregate, but that transaction has a negative return. I understand the desire to limit how frequently they sell at a loss.

Credit card agreements used to require parity with cash and no minimums (as Visa and MasterCard had to create new buying habits). But recent laws have placed restrictions on those restrictions.

I get that but sometimes u transact outside and then you decide to go inside and spend a few bucks but then they hit you with a minimum. It's annoying. That 30 cents isn't going to lose money unless you bought something for like 60 cents. Margins are big inside, even if you only spend a few bucks it covers the fee versus no sale. They're just trying to boost basket sizes for more profit.

Minimums are legal.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 permits businesses to impose a minimum purchase amount of up to $10 for credit card use, but the minimum must be the same for all credit card issuers and payment card networks.

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