How your credit card affects small business
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 18:19:28 GMT —
If you are like most Americans you use a credit or debit card all the time. What you might not know is how much the service puts on businesses, particularly small businesses.
Leigh Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze, a cafe in downtown Columbia says she almost put up a sign saying 'What would you do with $10,000?.'
Because that's how much she paid last year to accept credit cards at her business.
"It's astronomical," she says. But she has realized the transactions are a cost of doing business.
"People would think I am crazy if we didn't offer credit cards. And it would probably kill my business."
And the experts agree.
"It's becoming more and more expected people accept credit cards," says Jeremiah Turner, the Merchant Services coordinator at Central Bank in Jefferson City. Turner acts as the middle man between businesses and credit card processors.
He says swiping a card at stores that sell small items like a pack of gum could cancel out the price of the item.
"If you are really trying to help a small business out, pay cash for that $2," says Turner.
If plastic is all you have, Turner says run your card as credit, the fees on a business could be cheaper than debit.
Lockhart is hoping to change that "plastic" mindset with a new plan to encourage customers to hand over the green.
She has started a cash rewards program. They business offers people a card. Every five dollars, an employee punches it and after $100 is spent, the custimer gets a gift card.
She has put up reminders throughout the store. And customers are paying attention.
"I would prefer to use credit cards, because of convenience, but I did wanna help out Leigh and that took priority," says
But not everyone I talked to could be swayed.
"I wouldn't use a cash rewards program." He says he would rather avoid the long lines at an ATM and just do all his business at the store.
Turner says statistics show if a business accepts credit cards, people are more likely to buy right away.
That's why Leigh knows she will never stop offering cards. And her cash rewards program is helping ease the high transaction fees, even if her loyal cash paying customers are the only ones using it.
"They help make it possible for others to use credit cards," she says.
Leigh won't twist the system much. Experts say 1 in 3 people use a credit card during any given transaction and that number is increasing. At her business alone, she sees card usage go up 10% a year.