Food purchases; two questions.

Paying in restaurants and the like, that is.
#1 Why do so many pay for small purchases with debit and even credit cards? Even when the bill is a couple bucks or less.
#2 Also, many people order ‘to go’ and then sit at a table to eat.
These are not gripes. I’m just curious.

Taking my debit card out of my purse, swiping it, and punching my PIN in is much less work for me than digging out cash, giving it to the cashier, waiting for the cashier to figure out how to give me $3.14 in change, and putting the change away into my purse. It usually also goes faster, and it’s easier to accurately journal the transaction into my personal budgeting system later because there’s a record of the purchase in my bank records in addition to the register receipt.

Well the debit card (and possibly the credit card also) may be that the person either forgot/didn’t have time/couldn’t find an ATM. I’ve done that myself.

Another reason for using a credit card is that it may be a business credit card and they may be keeping all those receipts separate.

I have no theory about ordering “to go” and then staying though.

Ooh! I’ve seen done this before - but only at fast food places. I believe the reasoning is that people don’t want to carry around bulky trays, but I could be wrong …

I don’t know about #2, but for #1, I purchase as little as possible with cash. I would purchase nothing with cash if it were possible. Electronic payments are easier tracked, require only monthly replenishments (as opposed to going to an ATM once a week for cash), don’t bulk up my pocket, and for a lot of purchases (such as buying gas) save time.

BTW, as much as I hate cash, I absolutely despise coins. Screw the sackies.

In Ohio, and I assume some other states as well, food eaten in at a restaurant is taxable, while to go is non-taxable. So some people probably want to save a little bit by placing their order to go.

In the UK at least, many retail outlets specify a lower limit for credit card use. I have seen both £5.00 and £10.00 used in this context.

For small purchases I will use cash but I pay by credit card where feasible merely because the card company offers cashback.

Some people use credit or debit cards because if they stopped to get money out, they’d end up piddling the money away on nothing of importance, instead of just spending what they intended to.

I’ll echo just about everything said about paying with credit/debit cards. Paying with a check card is even better than credit because the money gets directly subtracted from my account. The less cash I have burning a hole in my pocket, the less cash I have to spend.

As for ordering to-go and then sitting down to eat… I’ve never seen this happen in the restaurant I work in (IHOP) and I’ve been there over 4 years now. The only way I could think of having that happen is if the people were real jerks and just don’t want to pay a tip.

It would be more common in a fast food place. I’ve done it myself on several occasions. For someone like myself that never manages to finish my entire meal, it’s much easier to just get the to-go stuff (bag, container, etc.) along with my meal, thus avoiding another trip to the counter. No, I’m not lazy, I just hate the hassle of waiting for someone to recognize me when I’m standing off to the side of the counter. And I’m sure as hell not going to wait through another line just to get a bag and some napkins.

As for #1, I frequently use a debit card because my paycheck is direct deposit to my bank account, so I’m often carrying little, if any, cash. It’s just easier to pay by card when I can than stop at an ATM on the way to the restaurant.

My best friend worked for several years as a customer service representative for that big credit card company that begins with a “C”. She told me that in their training, they were told that any vendor who has an agreement with Visa to accept cards with their logo for purchases must accept Visa for any purchase, no matter how small. Vendors are not allowed to set minimum limits on its use, and if they’re caught doing it (such as if a customer’s card is refused for a small purchase and the customer reports them to Visa), they can lose their right to accept Visa altogether. I don’t know if this is true in the UK or not, so take that as you will. :slight_smile:

As for why people pay for small purchases with a debit/credit card rather than cash, I personally almost never carry any cash. When I have cash, I can usually think of a hundred things that I absolutely have to have and will waste money accordingly. If I pay with my debit card, then I’ve only spent the amount required to cover my purchase, and I don’t have change and small bills rolling around, tempting me to buy that soda or snack from the vending machine after lunch, go out to lunch with the gang even though I brought a perfectly acceptable lunch with me, etc. I know it’s a bad habit, and not keeping cash on hand makes it easier to control. But that’s just me.

#2 is definitely a tax thing. There is no tax when you say “to go.” In Ohio, anyway.

Jadis, things must have changed since your friend worked at the credit company as I worked as a bullet catcher in a stop-n-rob and our credit card machines wouldn’t let you process an order for less than $1.00. Also, I’ve been in lots of places which have signs up stating that they won’t let you charge anything less than $5.00. Why they do that is because of the fees charged to the vendor by the credit card companies eat up a significant chunk of profit on such a small purchase.

I’ll use my debit card for a small purchase because I don’t have time to go to the ATM machine and get any money out of it, or my account balance is too low for me to get any money out of the machine.

They’ve got you covered on the vending machines, Jadis. Some now accept debit/credit cards. The marvels of technology, huh? :wink: I still feel awkward using a card to pay for a $2 cappuccino. People use them for a candy bar, costing less that a buck. I dunno. Guess I’m in the minority on this.

A little larceny there, Gilligan? Tax evasion? You do know what happened to Al Capone, right?
I haven’t seen the ‘to go’ thing much in restaurants, mostly in cafes (pl. ?) and fast food joints. But it is pretty common.

An aside; I haven’t dealt with drug dealers for quite a while, but I’ve heard that some of them also accept these cards. Any truth to that?
No fair pleading the 5th. :wink:

I usually use the credit card for small purchases only when I’m travelling. When you’re on vacation or a business trip and never eating at home for a few days, the little amounts add up quickly, and I don’t feel comfortable carrying a lot of cash. Ok, I realize that we’re not talking thousands of dollars here, but if you lose your purse or wallet with $250 cash in it, you’re SOL.

Again related to the vacation, if I’m going somewhere where I suspect things will be cash only (ice cream vendors on the beach, let’s say) I will use my card for a small purchase at the mini-mart to make sure that I have plenty of cash for the rest of the day.

Also (I don’t do this, but it seems to be my dad’s new hobby) some cards offer promotions based on the number of times you use your card, regardless of the amount of the purchase. In all likelihood, only a tiny number of people do this for this reason, but if the promotions are successful, more people might take it into account and start whipping out the card for $6.35 purchases.

And those of us whose check-credit-cards give us miles (with my bank, one mile for every two dollars), we have every incentive to use it for everything.

Of course, the funny thing is that I get miles only for transactions processed in the Mastercard system as “credit,” but not the NYCE or Cirrus systems as “Debit,” even though either way the dollars are sucked right out of my checking account.

As for question 2 - well, I’m wishy-washy. I’ll order “to go,” and then suddenly realize that I’m hungrier than I thought, or that I don’t have enough hands for the bag, or that somebody left a newspaper I haven’t read yet sitting on a table.

I didn’t have much money when I was a kid (young man). Now I do, relatively speaking. Not having some folding green in my pocket reminds me of the ‘good’ old days.
I like sackies. They jingle. :wink:
BTW; the clerks I’ve asked say that they hate cards for small purchases. Not that we care about that.

#1 You get out of the habit of using cash, then have a run on it one day. You buy gas, say, at a station that charges extra for cards, buy movie tickets, then find yourself short of cash at the next checkout.

#2 That’s a new one on me. Never saw that happen.

In my experience, to-go is more expensive. There’s an extra charge that goes to help clean the litter it’s assumed you will create. Could just be a local thing, though…

Regarding #2, I’ve done this when I wanted to carry away part of my meal. This way I get the bag up front, and don’t have to go up afterwards and ask for a bag.