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Why there's no wrong way to pay

It's 2016, how is 'cash only' still a thing?

Photograph: Anna Kucera

We’ve all been that person. The one that digs through their wallet in search of the lobster you were certain was hiding somewhere between receipts, only to realise you are, in fact cashless.

You pitch up at your local coffee cart with an apologetic expression, wondering if you’ll be able to get your caffeine fix that morning. But here’s the thing – it’s actually fine to be that person. In fact, according to a recent Ipsos survey, 46 per cent of Australians want to be that person. That’s right, pretty much half of us would prefer to use a card or now even a mobile phone over cash for small transactions, and 72 per cent of us would like to have the option to use either.

There’s a hidden cost to using cash – which is that it’s time consuming and pretty germy. Anyone who’s ever fumbled with change for minutes on end, or cringed when their server grabbed their food with the same hand they used to handle cash, knows that. The value of cards is more than just convenience.

Imposing a minimum transaction amount for cards – or turning people away because their money isn’t the right flavour – isn’t a very 2016 look. That’s why Time Out is supporting Mastercard’s No Minimums campaign.

Delivering excellent customer service is about giving people options, including the option to pay the way you want to. It also makes good business sense – two in five Australians surveyed said they avoid shopping at places with card minimums and fees. Turning away more than a third of your potential customers is not going to save you money in the long run. Or even in the short run. 

To celebrate the businesses that understand excellence in customer service, even for the small stuff, we launched three new People’s Choice categories in our Food Awards – and in order to win, vendors had to have no minimum spend on card transactions.

We also hit the streets, researching the Local Hero businesses, from providores to butchers, to bakers, to newsagents that are honouring their customers with great service, great products and no minimum spend all over Sydney. These celebratory features showcase some of the best small businesses our city has to offer. Because there’s no minimum on being awesome.  


James K
James K

Perhaps this would be a good idea if the Merchants (MasterCard, Visa etc) weren't driving small businesses into the ground with their percentage based rates (i.e. small businesses get charged a percentage of the total of each sale) instead of a flat rate.

Minimums are likely in place to protect the bottom line (slim margins) on transactions that would likely make a loss, or very little, if a merchant percentage fee was charged for a purchase below a minimum spend.

Perhaps TimeOut should also look at investing more time in supporting small businesses who do great work, but struggle to make money. The struggle because of fees like the ones from credit card merchants, and instead of hoping in bed with them to promote an incredibly heavily spun PR campaign that favours the big players, TimeOut should help out the little ones. The little players are the ones that make our city so great.

Graham S
Graham S

I'm a taxi driver- and there's no minimum spend for cards in taxis. Incidentally, Time Out was required reading at taxi school!

Jenifer J
Jenifer J

Can we offer our own suggestions as well?