Once upon a time there were services you wouldn't dream of paying for with your credit card. But little by little, more and more businesses are getting on board with plastic, in places you might not even expect.
Soon to be gone are the days when you have to stress about carrying cash to get across town. More cities are updating their parking meters to accept credit cards. No more running back out to “feed the meter” its little snacks - you can give it a full meal up front and pay for the maximum allowed time just by inserting your card. Some meters even allow you to pay via smartphone. Additionally, cabs are overwhelmingly accepting credit cards in order to keep up with the Ubers of the world. The downside is that you might wind up tipping more than you normally would because of the preset amounts on the touchscreen.
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Credit-card enabled taxi cabs and parking meters are becoming part of our culture, which means other business types are catching on. So what's next? Here some other products and services that you can buy with a swipe of your card.
Girl Scout Cookies
You can pay for your cookies when the little green-bereted hucksters jump out in your path on your way into the grocery store. But beware: it’s a lot easier to over-order Thin Mints when you're not limited to the cash you have on hand.
Farmer's Market Fare
Where you used to stroll up and down the stalls with a wad of small bills rolled, you can now simply slip your credit card in your back pocket and swing your hand-woven basket with glee. Many farmer's market stands have entered the golden age of plastic. Check your local farmers market association's website for a list.
Rare is the food truck that doesn't take credit cards. Now that the mobile meal dealers have become a hipster phenomenon, many of them have Twitter accounts and websites and tell you exactly what cards they accept.
Enterprising children (and their parents) have been spotted in the Silicon Valley area accepting credit cards at homemade stands selling the iconic summer beverage. All it takes is a Square and an iPad and a savvy kid, and voila! No scrounging under the floor mats in your car for spare change when you happen upon this delight.
How many times have you chosen not to valet park your car because you didn't have cash to tip the valet? Worry no more - iPhone app Curbstand allows you to pay for the parking AND your tip with your credit card through their app on your smartphone.
Nightclubs, concert venues, conference halls, and event locations are taking advantage of Shark Tank alum CoatChex, a new service that modernizes the traditionally paper-ticket and cash coat check. It's a startup that sends a team to your event with mobile racks and a digital service that tracks your coat with a QR code and accepts credit card payments with Square.
“It's one of those things that just makes sense,” says company founder Derek Pacque. “For the cost of what the venue charges for a Bud Light,” no more fumbling for a paper ticket or coming up with the cash.
If your phone dies or you lose it, just give the clerk your phone number and they can find your coat that way. It's like Uber for your coat. And about that dead phone: Pacque says his company will start offering mobile chargers so you can juice up while you're at the party - payable, of course, by credit card.
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You Can Charge That?!
Think it stops at sex and drugs? Think again.
Silicon Valley sex workers have been accepting payments via credit card for years, by calling themselves “consultants” or “coaches” and setting up businesses as such. And with the advent of legalized marijuana in some states, new enterprises like smartphone-controlled pot order-and-delivery services have announced operation. Canary and Eaze are two such apps the cannabis-user can employ to have the drug brought right to their doors. According to an article on credit.com, a 2013 report projects legal marijuana sales to top $2 billion this year. Imagine the credit card processing fees on that sum!
While it is currently illegal for dispensaries and pot delivery services to accept credit cards, Canary's website says “We hope to expand to your other favorite payment methods, such as credit cards, Venmo, and PayPal once regulations loosen up.” That may happen sooner than later. The Department of Justice changed its regulations in February to allow banks to work with dispensaries. Can new regulations for credit card companies and dope dealers be far behind?