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Why “Cash Only” Is a Big Mistake

cash-only-small-businessThough they’re getting less and less common as time goes on, we’ve all seen “cash only” signs on display in small businesses. It makes perfect sense that these small businesses prefer to be paid in cash. Cash payments are instant, don’t require transaction fees, and make for easy bookkeeping.

Surprisingly, some of these cash-only businesses manage to keep the doors open. Some have dedicated cadres of loyal customers who are willing to stop by the ATM on the way. Others cater to a clientele who are as stuck in the past as they are. While a few small businesses manage to stay in the game without accepting credit cards, most of them would be more profitable if they did.

Cash Is Disappearing

Cash is king no longer. Yes, it’s still quite common as a means of payment, but it’s becoming steadily less so as time goes on. A survey conducted back in 2011 indicated that less than 27% of transactions that year were cash-based. Two-thirds were made with credit or debit cards. For businesses that refuse to accept plastic, those numbers represent a big reduction in potential revenue.

Younger Consumers Are Leading the Charge

For the younger generation of consumers, carrying cash seems almost antiquated. After all, many receive their pay via direct deposit, and pay their bills and do much of their shopping online. Most of the bricks-and-mortar merchants they support accept credit and debit cards without batting an eye.

Why should they go out of their way to support a business that does not make it convenient for them to do so? A few may be willing to make an extra stop and pay ATM fees, but unless a small business offers a unique, must-have product or service, the chances of that happening are slim.

Small Businesses Have Plenty of Options

Small-business owners should be aware of the fact that there’s more than one way to accept credit card payments. They can set up merchant accounts via banks or other financial institutions, sign up for mobile payment processing services that allow them to accept credit cards with a mobile device, or utilize the services offered by third-party online credit card payment processing companies. Each have their pros and cons, and each business owner should seek out the solution that best fits their business’s needs.

What About the Fees?

No matter how you process credit card transactions, fees come with the territory. Some processing solutions offer lower fees than others, but they can’t be escaped entirely. Business owners who are concerned about the fees should remind themselves about all the transactions they’ll miss out on if they don’t accept credit cards. That exercise casts the fees in a completely different light.




John R. Klaras is a serial entrepreneur and small business professional, a writer, and an educator by trade. With nearly a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry, he is currently in the process of building a burgeoning new microbusiness. He has written for leading companies in a wide variety of verticals, including travel, finance, motorsports, and real estate.