Credit cards are becoming relics of New York’s dining scene: report
A A New York woman suddenly found herself strapped for cash at a recent brunch when she noticed the 3% credit card charge on her bill.
Mary Diedrich appears to have missed the red lettered sign outside the Lower East Side tapas restaurant, according to a report.
“Notice,” read the bolded sign outside Poco. “This company has a 3% cash adjustment built into all prices. Any purchases made with a credit or debit card will receive a non-cash adjustment and will be reflected on your bill.”
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Diedrich, 34, jumped to her phone and started surfing her Chase app in a desperate search for the nearest ATM, where she was expected to withdraw several hundred dollars, the report notes.
“I thought, ‘Why would we spend that extra money? ‘” she said. “Taxi prices are more expensive these days, if you can save a few bucks, you’ll choose to save them.”
According to the report, cash back is nothing new for budget bodegas, pizzerias and nail salons in New York City.
However, seeing them in the city’s trendy restaurants was previously a rare sight to behold.
Now, some of those high-end restaurants are offering cash incentives of up to 10% off for New Yorkers ready and willing to lug hundreds of dollars in cash for their Sunday morning mimosas, the report notes.
Ultimately, the policy shift comes down to shrinking profit margins, higher credit card fees and general inflation, experts say.
“It’s all about the bottom line of these businesses, and credit card fees are one of the biggest and most frustrating costs they face,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at Lending Tree.
“I don’t think there is any question that we will see more restaurants and merchants [doing this].”
“Credit card interchange fees are often the third highest operating cost for restaurants, behind food and payroll,” according to Brennan Duckett, director of technology and innovation policy at the National Restaurant Association. “So menu prices are slowly rising, and more often consumers are seeing credit card charges as part of their bills.”
At the Peruvian-inspired Mission Ceviche on the Upper East Side, which has a $46 branzino and $165 tomahawk steak on the menu, customers can get up to 3.5% off if they cover the cost in cash, according to the report.
So what do customers think of the change?
They are carefree relativists, according to Carlo Silva, butler at Mission Ceviche.
“They don’t care too much about it,” he said. “We probably get one complaint a week.”
At least 95% of diners still pay with credit cards and ignore the sign that says, “If you pay cash, you won’t be charged,” according to Silva.
Diedrich never found an ATM, but said she was one of those customers who had no intention of carrying hundreds of them every time she went out to eat.
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“I prefer not to travel with large sums of money, especially if I take public transport,” Diedrich said. “There’s a price to pay for everything these days.”