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Ask Dave

Should My Business Accept Credit Cards?

David and his wife own a small business. They only accept cash or check as payment. A client suggested that they accept credit cards, and David wants to know Dave's take on the situation.

QUESTION: David in Colorado and his wife own a small business, and they run the business without debt. They only accept cash or check as payment. A client suggested that they accept credit cards, and David wants to know Dave’s take on the situation.

ANSWER: To start with, that client’s out of bounds. It isn’t their responsibility to tell you how to run your business either. That’s a bunch of crap. I have people actually mad at me because I won’t take credit cards. That’s just ridiculous, especially since I tell people not to have a credit card. I would be like the world’s biggest hypocrite to take credit cards.

In your case, if you have a moral issue or a values issue causing you to not want to take credit cards, then it’s okay to not take them. I would tell you I wouldn’t be mad at you in a business that has nothing to do with this subject to take credit cards. I wouldn’t be mad at you about that. We take the debit card, and I’ve had a lot of restaurant people, for instance, that go through Financial Peace University, they pay off all their credit cards, they cut up their credit cards, and they kind of feel a little bit hypocritical then taking credit cards.

I think unless you just feel this very, very strong moral component—you feel like the Holy Spirit’s telling you to just not do this—then I’m okay with you taking them. But I’m not okay with your client trying to run your business. That’s pretty absurd.

You’re not supposed to charge extra for a credit card if you take them. That’s what your agreement with Visa will state. In your world, you could just get the little Square—the thing you just plug into the top of your phone—and you could take a credit card with that pretty easily. We use those to take debit cards with iPads. That’s how we do our checkouts at our events and stuff. They’re very, very handy, and they’re really designed for one-user business like you are. You could do that and then you could just make the statement, “We don’t believe in credit cards. We would prefer you run this on your debit card, but if you want to run it on that, then it’s your choice, and you decide what you want to do.” You could just make a statement that way if you wanted to.

Again, if you don’t want to take them at all, that’s fine. It’s usually about a 3% fee for you guys. You may not want to offer them at all. It would not be unusual in your business to not take them. Let’s say I hire a home decorator to come in and do decorating for me. I don’t really turn around and go, “Hey, would you put this on my card?” They are usually going to give you a bill. You give them a check. That’s normally a type of service like you’re doing. If somebody paints my house, I don’t turn around and go, “Hey, you know, I think you ought to take credit cards so it would make that easier for me.” Write them a check. Did you forget how to write a check? It’s not that hard.

I don’t think in your world—now in the restaurant world, it’d be kind of weird to not take plastic of some kind. In our bookstore and online, we take plastic, but we don’t take credit cards. We take debit only.

I think you’ve just got one guy that’s a little bit of a pill there, and I’d move on.