Your Credit Card is Hurting Small Business

The punishing trickle of dollars and cents

Dylan Hughes

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Photo by Claire Abdo on Unsplash

Cash back is really cool.

When I spend $10 at a gas station, I get 30 cents back toward my credit card statement — no matter what! For no reason!

It’s hard to turn this down.

It’s hard to turn down those cents, which eventually become dollars, which eventually become tens of dollars. If you’re smart, you’ll save them up for a while and use that free money towards a new laptop or a vacation.

Is it really free money, though?

As a t-shirt vendor, I know that a credit card swipe isn’t free for anyone. It’s convenient, so there’s a fee. If you accept a credit card payment through a Square POS terminal, you’re paying Square 2.6% of the transaction plus 10 cents.

With Shopify, the company my band uses, you pay 2.5% and 0 cents.

A company like Shopify allows you to do a lot more than accept credit cards. We also use it to manage our inventory and host our online store.

But we pay for that service. The credit card fees don’t grant us any additional access. It simply takes money out of our pockets.

On a grand scale, this can become costly. If I sold, say $100,000 worth of product in a year, we would owe Shopify $2,500.

That seems like a drop in the bucket. But when you’re a small business with a lot of overhead, those dollars and cents count.

As a band, we cough up tens of thousands of dollars per year for gas and hotels alone. When you start throwing in payroll, vehicle repairs, gear repairs, and everything else that goes into making a band happen, you start to wish people would pay with cash.

People generally respect my sign at the merch table that reads, “Cash is King, But We Accept Credit Cards, Too.” If they have the cash, they’ll pay to save us the fee.

But many people simply don’t have the cash, because they store it all on that little plastic card that fits so easily into their wallet. Or, with touchless pay now super popular, people can store money on their phones. No wallet necessary!

I get it. I have multiple credit cards, and I spend most of my money that way, too.

But all it’s doing is hurting small businesses — and making larger businesses raise their prices. Because larger businesses look for revenue wherever they can. If they can justify a way to up prices, they will.

Taking your credit card gives them that justification. They’ll pay 2.5% and up their prices by 3%. It’s the way of the capitalistic world.

I like credit card points as much as anyone else. But the more we use credit cards, the more expensive we make life for everyone else.

Dylan Hughes is a 26-year-old freelance writer covering self-development and his life on the road as a tour manager. You can read his writing on Medium and Substack — and check out his two books on Amazon.

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Dylan Hughes

Two-time self-development author writing on whatever interests me. Follow me on Instagram: chyaboidylan