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I almost never have cash on me. Is it really that much worse for the bartender if I use a credit card?

It depends on the bartender’s role at the bar. If they own the place, they love it when you pay with a card. Otherwise, they might not be so pleased. Let me explain.

The reason so many bars and restaurants, especially fast casual spots, accept only plastic is because it’s much faster for employees to process transactions and extremely easy for owners to track them. Accepting only plastic means that the owner is aware of every transaction that has occurred at the business. They’ve removed the risk of human error when employees make change, and prohibited any staffers inclined to steal from doing so.

Finally, the card helps ensure that you, the customer, don’t skip out on a drink. By requiring you to open a tab with a card when you place your first order, the bar mitigates the risk of you bouncing at the end of the night without paying, whether you mean to or not.

While there are a lot of conveniences to card only, there are also major downsides. The biggest one? Only accepting credit cards excludes a large portion of the population who don’t have bank accounts or credit scores to have a card in the first place. By not taking the mighty dollar you exclude them from participating in the economy.

It’s also harder to tip out staff at the end of the night. This is probably why you’ve felt bartenders haven’t loved taking your card in the past. When you tip on a credit card, the owner usually waits for that card to reconcile before paying out the tips — and sometimes that payout can come added to an employee’s paycheck, instead of in cash, which is faster to spend and easier to not declare.