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Traveling w/o a credit card

Posted by hilltop (My Page) on
Thu, May 9, 13 at 14:48

Is traveling w/o a credit card possible? We travel a lot both domestically and occasionally internationally. I'd like to get rid of my credit card, but not sure if it's possible or wise to use only a debit card and cash.

I don't want to support the c-card companies indirectly through the fees they charge companies or through the ridiculous fees that could occur if I happened to pay late. But I don't want to put myself at risk by using a debit card that might not offer protection.

We only use limited credit for anything else in our lives so we have little or no credit rating.

Just wondering if others handle life without a credit card.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I'd always have a back-up with me. A second card to a different account. And remember that you have a lot more protection for disputes with a credit card. Carry it with you, you don't have to use it.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

If you carry a debit card, you are likely also paying fees to support mastecard/visa with each swipe. There isn't much difference.

Carry a credit card issued by some place you like and trust, and set up payments to be automatic. Kinda necessary for travellers.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I would not advise it. I have traveled out of the country a lot and was saved by having my credit card with the password to use ATMs. Wouldn't a debit card be the same as a check? What's wrong with carrying a CC with you for emergencies?


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I would not leave the country without a credit card.

My wallet with all of my credit cards and cash fell out of pocket last year during a roller coaster ride. We had to cancel everything. The credit cards saved us. We were staying in a big lodge that allowed us to charge our meals to the room. When we were ready to check out, we called the credit card company and allowed dh to authorize the use of his credit card for the transaction. We did it again later when we got gas. We had one of the credit card companies expedite a new credit card so we were ok until everything else came in. Dh had very little cash on him because he doesn't like to carry it. I keep a change container with cash in my vehicle so we had a little cash if we had needed it, but not enough to finance the entire trip.

My wallet was found and returned to me the next day. The cash had been removed by the amusement park and deposited as per their policy. I was refunded by check a month later. My biggest loss to replace would actually have been the car key that beeps me in and out of my vehicle. I got that back so I really only lost time. I was lucky. The amusement park said that because of the way the roller coaster throws things,it was lucky they found the wallet. Some people never get theirs back.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Completely without plastic might be problematic but certainly not impossible. For example, paying cash for an airline ticket is a good way to find yourself subject to additional scrutiny from the TSA.

Whether you use a debit or credit card, companies like hotels and car rental agencies typically put a hold on your account for an amount greater than what you actual bill may be. Rental agencies will often put a $300-500 hold on your account to cover potential damage to a vehicle. Now you get that money back but it may take a few business days for those funds to become available again. Not a big deal but something to consider when budgeting for you trip.

Depending on your financial situation, it may not be a bad idea to have a credit card for emergencies. For example, doctors and hospitals in foreign countries may require payment in advance.

Credit cards may offer additional protection but you want to read the fine print of your bank's card agreement. The biggest advantage I see to using a credit card is if something untoward happens. Let's say your card is lost or stolen and used fraudulently. You report it within the required time period so you aren't responsible for the charges but in the case of a debit card, the money may be missing from your account while the bank investigates. That may only be a day or two but it might be a day or two that you don't have a meal or a place to stay. With a card card, Citibank takes all the risk.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

A lot of health insurance won't cover you when you are out of the country. I called BCBS and they said I am covered but I need insurance papers to carry with me because other countries do not have the forms I would need.

I agree they do want to be paid before they help you. I know of someone on a cruise that was taken to the nearest port, a helicopter picked her up and it cost them $15,000. to transport her. It's scary out there, buy travel is worth it.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I had a friend who was travelling in England and needed emergency abdomenal surgery due to a sudden blockage. She left her tour, went into an English hospital for surgery, then spent a full week recovering. She had some health insurance which was not recognized there. On her discharge, she was given a bill for approximately $1000 USD and put on a taxi to the airport for her scheduled trip home. She happily paid the bill when she returned home. Imagine spending a week in a US hospital and getting billed only a grand? On the other hand, I made a brief trip to my hometown of Buffalo NY. I had left my credit cards in my house in Long Island. Even tho I had a reservation and some cash, the car rental at the Bflo airport would not give me a car. I spent my visit relying on relatives for rides. Does anyone still use Travellers Checks? I used to carry about $2000 worth of American Express checks when I was travelling in my younger years, 30- 40 years ago.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I listen to the financial guru Dave Ramsey on the radio and he has said he has only four pieces of plastic in his wallet.

Driver's license
Business debit card
Personal debit card
Gun carry permit

He travels nationally as well as internationally without a credit card. He has no credit cards at all.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

His bank account is probably large enough to take the hold that hotels and rental cars put on the money.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Yeah, he worked from bankruptcy and living in his car to know all about debt and not wanting to be any part of it.

I sure learned a lot from him. I learned the biggest item advertised in America is debt. Don't you just love those zany Vikings? Or Alec Baldwin, or that kid that doesn't want "free" cash?

I paid off every card and cut them up. If I can't pay cash for my car I don't need a NEW car, I need transportation, and a $10,000 car goes just as fast as a $30,000 car. And if my neighbors don't like my 5 year old car...too bad.

I'm in a business where I deal directly with customers. And I am literally shocked when I see women whip out 20, yes 20 credit cards to buy a $13 item. I've noticed rubber bands do a good job of holding that stack of cards together. Then they quietly go through them muttering which ones are late and which ones they can use.

Let's hear it for debt in America! And bankruptcy courts!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Just because some women have 20 CCs doesn't mean that CCs are bad, it just means the women have no control. I love my little CC, it gets me through the line faster and only one check needed to pay it off at the end of 30 days. I love new cars and have had 3 new homes a move up every time, it was a very smart move. The last house cost us $45,000. was paid off in 15 years instead of the the 30 the loan called for and sold for $108,000. We used loans for all the cars all the homes except the last one. Paid cash for it. I have never liked debt, but used it as a TOOL and paid everything off before it was due.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

christopherh, I am glad that you realized that you cannot handle credit in a responsible manner! It is good that you figured out what works for you.

As for me... there is no way I will give up my CCs (only 2!) and their perks. And I do not carry a balance or pay any fees. I know I can use them responsibly!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

LuAnn, you stated what I was afraid to. Responsibility is the key to using a CC.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Just to clarify, when you use a debit card, the bank charges businesses a fee for processing those as well.

One local sandwich shop already charges .35 extra for paying with a debit card.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I was never out of control with credit. I just didn't like being in debt, that's all. And over 40 years of marriage, you can accumulate some more debt than you're comfortable with. So I cut up the cards.

Since late 2008, personal bankruptcies were at record levels. People had to get out from under their credit card debt. Why do you think debt consolidation firms are so prevalent?

I am a small business. And I can tell you first hand who pays for what when a credit card is given.

I pay 1.69% of the transaction to my processor.
Visa/MasterCard get 25 cents. It makes no difference if the transaction is $10 or $1,000, they get 25 cents.
I have a monthly fee of $15 for the wireless terminal data connection.

At one time I was forced to take all Visa/MC cards offered, no matter what the amount. Thankfully that has changed, and I am allowed to have a minimum amount as long as it does not exceed $15.

Debit cards have a straight 40 cent fee, that's all.

I HATE rewards cards! Everybody thinks those miles, or cash back come from those wonderful CC companies. They do not. I am the one who is paying upwards of 3% on the transaction. I am the one paying. I see a reward card and say I'm making less money on this sale.

That's why that sandwich shop is charging extra for plastic. And gas stations can again charge a higher price for plastic too.

That's why I pay cash.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

The point is, some people can handle credit cards, use them carefully, pay them each month, there is no debt.
Some people cannot, some people accumulate huge debt and stress.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Exactly!

Using CC =/= debt for those of us who know how to properly use them.

And as far as the perks go... why not collect them?
The vendor doesn't give a discount for cash, so I use the plastic and get the bonus!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

You can get a cash discount at the gas stations as more and more are charging more to use plastic. Usually about 5 cents per gallon.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Nope... not in my area.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Not right now...


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

In our area you have to charge your gas or go in and pay cash then fill your car. CC is easier and I don't know of any business around here that gives a discount for cash.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

OP here. Great comments. Definite food for thought. I hadn't considered the medical emergency/travel abroad situation.

Part of what prompted the initial question is that I'm an avid Dave Ramsey listener and we've followed his principle of "pay with cash" since we were first married. So we're very financially secure.

The real thing that prompted my question is that I've had the same CC for 34 years. Initially I only used it for small things but living in a rural area most of my shopping is now done via Internet and I like the protection a CC offers.

Only twice have I had a finance charge. First time 3 years ago when I was double billed by a government agency and I only paid one of the charges on my CC. Since I didn't pay the balance in full I got hammered with a finance charge. In hindsight I should have paid both charges and then disputed it.

And my most recent finance charge occurred because I had to pay my CC bill from 4 different accounts (different businesses we own & then personal account). I pay online but my CC company will only let me make one payment per day. I forgot to add a Compassion International charge of $45 in a total. The first month I had a $16+ finance charge. OK, I paid it because it was my fault. But then the second month I had a $24 finance charge. I was told it was because it automatically goes into a 2 month revolving credit situation when a balance is not paid in full (since it's based on the total balance). That 2nd month I had a large balance because I'd purchased airline/hotel/rental car tickets for myself & parents for a trip across country so the interest was based on that full balance. Fortunately the CC agreed to forgive the charges.

Anyway, I'm going to keep the card. I use it responsibly. But I'm going to really limit my use of the card from now on. It just made me mad. Partly at myself for the stupid mistake but also at the CC companies for their totally ridiculous interest rates.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Ah, but when you pay in full, the interest rates don't matter!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

My CCards are set to pay in full automatically from my checking account. That way I won't get a finance charge.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Yes, you're right LuAnn - the interest rates shouldn't matter....but I'm human and make mistakes, just forgot to add in a number. I've had the card 34 years that's 408 months. One misunderstanding and one error on my part in all those years isn't bad.

But I tend to disagree with you on two points.
RE: the perks. To me the perks are like "spending your way to rewards". I can see where the CC companies love the philosophy so people get caught up in the freebies forgetting that it's costing them in the end.

RE: "The vendor doesn't give a discount for cash". We have negotiated a discount for cash with some of our vendors. So it is possible.

Cmarlin I hadn't thought of setting it up to pay automatically, but then again I need to split the bill between different entities and that's why I need to do it manually over a period of days since I can only make one payment online per day.

But I've gotten "burned" doing a the auto payment from a checking account. I'd set up a one-time payment to a charity and they continued to take payments out on a monthly basis. That was hard to get stopped until I convinced our local bank I did not authorize continued payments.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

"But I tend to disagree with you on two points.
RE: the perks. To me the perks are like "spending your way to rewards". I can see where the CC companies love the philosophy so people get caught up in the freebies forgetting that it's costing them in the end. "

??

What is it costing me in the end?

If I have, say, a $300 grocery budget per month... why not charge it all and get the perks?
Paying cash gets me nothing.

Same goes for everything else.

Gas is the same price, cash or credit.. so I use the credit and get the perks.

I charge our season tickets to the symphony. The cost is the same whether I charge or pay cash, so why not get the perks?

Etc., etc., etc.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

"RE: "The vendor doesn't give a discount for cash". We have negotiated a discount for cash with some of our vendors. So it is possible. "

Lucky you!
I have not found a single person, store or vendor in my area that discounts for cash.... even among the mom & pop stores I prefer.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I see where you're coming from LuAnn. You're obviously a very disciplined person for whom it works well. You know, understand and follow your budget.

I can just see CC companies profiling and targeting the weak or young and naive to take advantage of them. But then if they don't learn their lesson the first time and are willing to walk into it again I guess they get what they ask for. So, in my case I accidentally "walked into it again" and I don't want to get stung by the CC company again. And so I questioned if it's possible to travel w/o a CC, because I do love to travel!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Thanks!

I definitely would always use a credit card when traveling. Better protection than a debit card, no 'holding' of your funds (hotels and car rentals are notorious for that!), and some even waive exchange fees.

I have heard so many horror stories about debit cards, that I don't even want one. (no debit card, no ATM card)


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

My orthodontist offers a 5% discount for paying in full up front for your full course of treatment. I asked about an additional 2-3% off if I paid in cash vs my rewards card. Nope! Got a ton of points though and can use them right at checkout on Amazon.

When traveling, I bring cash and a cc. I usually pay cash for meals, local transportation, and incidentals. I use the cc for larger items like the hotel room or anything I might need extra protection for, like orders placed for items at a meeting/convention. No risk of losing my cash via fraudulent debit card charges, most cc's have zero fraud liability. Plus if there are any problems, cc's help dispute charges. Not to mention extended warranties in some cases.

You could always consider traveling with a prepaid cc, so you still use "cash" in a way, but with no chance of someone draining your bank account with fraudulent debit card charges (which are notoriously hard to straighten out).

I'm firmly in the get rewards, pay in full each month club. Once every year or two we carry a balance for a month to spread out a large purchase, but more for convenience (like taxes are due and we like a large cushion in the bank) than necessity. It's nice to have that option if something unexpected comes up, and we pay maybe $10 a year in interest, if that.

This also allows us to keep most of our savings invested and earning interest. If anything unexpected comes up, or if we have a lot of expenses at once, putting it on the card gives us time to get a few more paychecks before the bill is due. Yes, we have the money already, but it can stay where it earns for us while we buffer our checks with the cc.

It's not for everyone, but there's actually a net gain if you are disciplined. It's one of the few things I don't agree with from DR, but I understand that a lot of people that need his help can't manage the cc as many here have described. But if you can, that doesn't mean you're off track from DR's plan, just that you understand how to use a tool to meet your goals and not let it get in the way.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

LuAnn, I agree, no debit or ATM for me. I did use the ATM in Peru when I ran out of cash. It was funny, I couldn't remember my pin number, when I woke the next morning I knew it. LOL I guess someone was looking out for me.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

I was wondering about not having a debit card for travel, it seems to be the easiest cheapest way to get local currency, but I only use it at banks, not freestanding ATM machines.

I also like DR, but disagree with some of always/never points.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

This came up for us years ago on a vacation: not all credit cards are equal! So if you're heading out of the US, check what's customary in the countries you'll visit. Discover cards are rarely accepted, American Express only at high end places, and Visa is so-so. We found that the Mastercard was most widely accepted where we were.

It was a few years ago, YMMV.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

One of the most expensive way of spending money over seas is to exchange the money in the United States. Unless your bank does it for free, the exchange services charge you several % as a fee. The exchange rate is often the most dastardly at these little kiosks. Many banks no longer exchange money for you. (They used to many years ago. Somehow, they stopped doing that!)

My bank allows me to get cash out of ATM in the local area (Europe, Asia etc) using the published exchange rate of the day. Then it charges me the least service fee of any other bank that I have looked at. I have to pay the ATM fee of the machine that I am using at that country. Often the fee is a fixed amount per transaction, so you get the largest amount of money that the ATM allows you to get to minimize the fee. Many European ATMs let you get 500 euro max for 5 euro service fee. No matter what, you need some cash when you travel. They frown on you when you get 1 euro ice cream with CC.

My particular CC gives me the exchange rate of the day plus a tiny foreign transaction fee when I charge it. Sometimes there is no transaction fee. Over the years, I pay a smaller fee using the CC than the ATM.

So the issue is not whether you carry debit/credit card. The issue is what gives you the least fee. This is what you need to shop around for if you are wanting to use a CC for foreign travel.

I have no problems with CC. In fact, I love them.

\We charge everything on it, and we do not buy anything that we could not pay with cash. In doing so, I get perks for using my CC.


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Like you, we pay almost everything cash or check.

Don't assume that means you have a low credit score. When we bough a second home recently, our scores shocked the bank's mortgage officer because--they were so unbelievably HIGH.

We do have one credit card (with both of us on it). It's used only for mail order and our prescriptions--and travelling. I can't imagine trying to travel without a credit card. You can't rent a car with cash or a debit card usually. It's impossible (and dangerous to try) to carry enough cash to cover possible emergencies. A lot of travel agencies won't take cash or checks these days--just credit.

If you're planning a lot of travel, it makes sense to keep one or two credit cards. You don't have to pay interest--only charge what you can pay off when the bill comes in. I, too, don't like that merchants are being charged a discount when you use a cc, BUT those discounts are built into their prices--WE'RE the ones losing out when we use cash, because we're giving the merchants an extra windfall (I try to get a discount for paying cash, since they do add that extra percentage to the prices).


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Either you trust yourself to handle money/credit responsibly, or you don't. It's hard to develop that self-discipline of not buying something just because you want it.

That feeling of instant gratification is alluring and addictive, and some folks can't step away from it. Many do it by reducing the temptation to begin with, which is what cutting up cards does.

Some tips on traveling abroad:

- Find out how much your card charges in transaction fees on foreign purchases. Capital One, for example, doesn't charge any extra fees. There are others; if you are doing a lot of overseas travel, apply for one.

- Make sure whatever card you use has the new CHIP AND PIN technology. Most US cards only use Chip and Signature tech, which is very outmoded by global standards. Both American Express and Diners Club use CaP tech, but one traveler reported having to wait two hours in line at ORLY because almost an entire planeload of US travelers were queued up to use the only train ticket window with a human teller. The automated ticket kiosk only took exact change or a CaP card. The traveler said he couldn't even get his airline, Air France, to change a 20-Euro note.

From a Liz Pulliam Weston/MSN Money article last year:

"....It's not that your credit cards are useless overseas. Most merchants and travel providers in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Canada -- the areas that have adopted the smart-card technology -- still accept U.S. credit cards, says Odysseas Papadimitriou, who travels to Europe a few times a year and is the chief executive of credit card comparison site Card Hub.

But U.S. cards, which rely on older magnetic-strip technology, simply won't work in machines that require users to punch in a personal identification number, or PIN, that's matched against a computer chip embedded in the card. U.S. debit cards won't work in these machines either, because they lack the all-important chip.

You could find yourself:
• Trapped in a parking lot that relies on automated kiosks to exit.
• Unable to buy gas at a pay-at-the-pump station.
• Prevented from buying bus, subway or rail tickets.
• Stopped at toll booths that require chip-and-PIN cards.

Some travelers report they've also encountered problems with clerks who don't know how to process a swipe-card transaction or merchants who refuse to accept U.S. cards, believing they're less secure. Such problems seem to be more common as time passes and fewer people are familiar with the older technology, especially in Europe, said Dan Ray, the editor-in-chief of CreditCards.com.

"The odds are greater now that you'll have some trouble," Ray said. "Europeans are less likely to have the machinery or the people who are eager to process your card."

Your debit card will work in overseas ATMs, but you may want to shorten your PIN if it's longer than four digits. Many foreign ATMs don't accept longer PINs. Also, foreign ATM keypads often don't have letters. If the only way you remember your PIN is by typing in a word into the keypad (say your password is 9-6-7-3, but you remember it by typing in the corresponding letters W-O-R-D), you should memorize the digits before you go."
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HTH!


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

When you fly into a distant location and want to rent a car, you're going to have a hard time doing so, without a credit card.

As one who does much of his business by paying cash, I resent having your perks priced into the goods that I buy.

Some store people permit a discount for cash, most won't - and most check-out people, operating on computer, don't have that option available to them.

They don't like having some merchandise left on their counter when, getting no discount, I walk out ... but that's their problem.

ole joyful


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

OJ you sure are a piece of work. Complain about perks costing you money then walk into a store with every intention of causing grief and disruption if you don't get your precious discount. Restocking costs the store and ultimatley everybody else. Your precious discount for long green is no less than a self rightious self appointed perk.

I'll bet a horse tu*d against a ginger snap your discounts for cash for an entire year don't even show up in the noise level especially if you factor in the cost of going someplace else to get the stuff.

Do you insist on a discount for toilet paper? I didn't think so, :-)

This post was edited by mxyplx on Tue, Dec 3, 13 at 11:13


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

Credit card purchases before the days of additional perks cost the stores a substantial amount.

Plus ... they had to wait for their money.

Which cash purchasers had to help pay for through price increases.

Now that perks are available ... the stores have to pay even more to the credit card companies.

As long as the cash customers don't give pushback, seeking an offsetting benefit, the store managers figure that things are working O.K.

Sometimes when there's not a line at the checkout, I've asked the person whether they'd rather be paid from the proceeds of the credit card purchase made by the person ahead of me in line ... or of my purchase, made in cash.

They say that it doesn't matter to them.

I say that if the store owner owed them $100.00 and they were paid from the proceeds of the credit card purchase, they'd get only $98.00 or so, or maybe as low as $96.00 or even less.

Plus ... they wouldn't get paid for a month or six weeks, maybe more.

But if they were paid from the proceeds of my purchase, they'd get the full $100.00 ... and it would be available to them tonight.

Most of them say that what the boss owes them ... s/he owes them, without any reductions, and how s/he gets it is not their problem.

I suspect that smaller, non-chain stores get a poorer deal that the big chains, that are better equipped to horse-trade with the credit card companies, as well.

Knowledge has power - but big bucks has even more.

ole joyful


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RE: Traveling w/o a credit card

My sincerest sympathies to the clerks.


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