This year it has become easier to swipe on campus as more and
more local stores and restaurants modify their credit and debit
card acceptance policies.

Over the past few months, many local businesses have changed how
they handle credit card purchases. Jimmy John’s no longer
requires customers to sign for their purchase, with the exception
of deliveries. Espresso Royale, which used to have a $3 minimum on
credit card purchases, abandoned the restriction early this
fall.

Other eateries, such as Subway and Potbelly Sandwich Works,
retain their minimum but do not require a signature.

Katy Kershner, a manager at Potbelly Sandwich Works on State
Street, said there have been mixed reactions from customers in
response to the company’s change in credit card policy. Many
customers are surprised at the new change and happy that their
experience is quicker and easier. But others react with uneasiness
concerning the security against identity theft because a signature
is not required, she said.

LSA sophomore Jenny Sasena said she uses a credit card for most
of her purchases on campus.

“I think it’s good because it gets me in and out
quicker, and I am not worried about theft,” Sasena said.
“But I can see why people might feel it’s
unsafe.”

Businesses reap many benefits from credit card acceptance.
Credit cards offer consumers the convenience of not having to carry
much cash around or waste time writing a check. By presenting a
greater number of payment options, a business can attract more
customers and bring in more profit.

But there are disadvantages to this practice as well. Credit
card companies charge a fee to businesses that decide to accept
their cards. In addition to monthly or annual fees, businesses
often pay for transactions on a per-transaction basis. This fee,
charged on each amount taken out by the card holders bank,
typically involves a percentage deduction of each amount charged
being taken out by the issuing bank. This fee is usually about 2 to
3 percent, but can be higher.

Due to this factor, credit card acceptance is an additional
expense that some businesses cannot afford. Large businesses with
large volumes pay a lower fee, which gives them an advantage over
small businesses. To combat this problem, many businesses establish
a minimum requirement for credit card purchases to ensure that
there is enough money to cover the fees of the credit card
companies and to make a profit.

Amer’s Mediterranean Deli, for example, absorbs an average
fee of about 2.5 percent, with MasterCard being the highest of the
major credit cards, said Sean Carter, a store manager. The
deli’s credit card processing company takes a portion of the
fee and in turn deals with the credit card companies with which the
business is affiliated.

Though the trend on campus is moving toward more lenient credit
card policies, there are local businesses that still operate on a
cash-only basis, such as the State Theatre, The Backroom pizzeria
and local ice cream shops such as Stucchi’s.

On the other hand, the campus Sprint store has incorporated
another new form of payment that is becoming popular, electronic
check processing. Electronic check processing converts paper
checks, at the time of sale, into electronic checks by submitting
them through the same system used to authorize credit and debit
cards. This procedure cuts down on handling costs and guarantees
payment in the same way as credit cards.

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