August 26, 2012

If you use your credit card for coffee, you’re a douche-bag.

How to be a Conscious Consumer on your daily Coffee run.

If you use your credit card at a local, indie cafe for a purchase under $5, you’re a douche-bag like many of us. Here’s some info about what happens when we use our credit cards for small purchases.

This blog comes out of a dialogue with a local barista who’s really worked up about a subject that most of us don’t think about at all. So hopefully, if we read, and share this post, and add ideas in comments, we can help to fix this blind spot.

1. When people use credit cards, according to our cafe source, people tip less—generally baristas make $20-40 less per shift than they used to when credit cards weren’t allowed.

2. When we use our credit cards, we’re giving a cut of our purchase to support multinational corporations (not all are bad, but Visa, Mastercard are all making money off of us all day already, thank you. And the huge banks were, remember, involved in our last economic downfall) instead of our independent, character-full local businesses.

3. Remember: the café has to pay not only a credit card fee, but a fee to a middleman credit card transactions processing company.

4. We’re not keeping our money local. Why’s that matter, beyond guilt and fear? It’s in our own self-interest to support our community, jobs. The more money kept locally the more businesses can support our tax base, which equals parks, safe streets etc. for us. More taxes from business theoretically equals fewer increases in property taxes. More, better independent, shops have more character and keep more jobs locally—making for communities we want to live in and enjoy.

5. Independent shops have a reputation for being pricier. Many cafés will have to raise prices to make up for losses, instead of keeping prices low.

Protip: Get cash back at the grocery, or pick up enough cash at your bank.


And here’s our solution—I thought about this without any help from Jeanne.

If your concern is getting points or miles, encourage your favorite café to offer a Loyal Patron Card for Cash Users: buy 10 cups with cash, get your 11th free. This will help the cafe attract and keep more loyal patrons and give said patrons an incentive, beyond typical liberal guilt or fear-mongering.

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strangegrapes Apr 29, 2014 1:36pm

I suspect your friend's real issue is that she would rather have the higher tips from people paying cash. This is fine but the owner has deemed it a good trade off to accept credit cards which brings in more people and helps keep the place open. And really, the rest of the stuff about credit cards is rather silly. See, when a business provides a service they don't do it just out of the goodness of their heart–not the bank, not the credit card processor, and not the shop owner. If there wasn't a bit of profit somewhere, the service would go away. Further, the money really does not leave the local economy just because it isn't physical bits of paper and metal being handed over (provided this is a locally owned shop), it's just moved around electronically with the bulk of it going back to the shop owner who then pays expenses and whatnot. Yes, there is a much more involved explanation but this is wordy enough.

On a side note, I would hope the owner is setting prices according to what it really costs to provide the service. I think most people will happily support a somewhat more expensive local business rather than a corporation, provided it is for a quality product and nice people who aren't shooting them dirty looks for pulling out plastic.

Btw, I don't really care if you use the term douche-bag (my 2 cents on that bit of silliness).

http://www.valeriecollart.net payday loans May 26, 2013 6:18pm

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Natali_78 Mar 26, 2013 3:32am

Totally agree. Consumer debt is just huge because people use credit cards everywhere. Paying for coffee with a credit card is a strange thing. I would allow that only if I had absolutely no cash in my wallet and paying with a card would be the last resort. Paying for coffee can not be serious reson to make a debt, it's better to use card for more important and expensive purchases. But there are people who even apply for immediate loans till payday to go to restaurant to get a few drinks. As for the tips, when you pay with card you leave people lesser tips. So I think that it's not worth to use credit cards in some occasions. Financial products like credit cards are intended for more important occasions.

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.