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How to pay - cash vs credit

I have what may be a stupid question or even a pointless one. But here goes anyway. For high end dining (Charlie Trotters, French Laundry, Inn at Little Washington, etc) is it in some way poor manners (not sure if that's the exact word I am looking for) to pay for your meal in cash? I honestly have never seen someone pay with cash at a place like this and haven't paid with cash myself.

Sometimes I'd rather just pay cash instead of putting the meal on the credit card, but wasn't sure if in some way it would be frowned upon. I would think cash would be preferred so the restautant wouldn't have to pay the credit card fee, but at the same time, cash is considered "dirty" and full of germs by many.

What are your opinions?

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  1. If you pay with new bills there's nothing to worry about.

    1. You get points on the credit card for paying on it, and so long as you're not carrying a balance on the card month-to-month, there's only an upside to paying via card. Also, the prices the restaurant charges assume you are paying by card.

      But, if the service was good or reasonable, it's best to tip in cash.

      1. I'm sorry I don't understand. It is considered rude to pay in cash? Yes, money is dirty. So is everything in the dining room. The chair you are sitting on was not degermed from the last customer. Nor were the salt and pepper shakers. If we think about the germs we would never go anywhere.

        If they don't want cash, they can give me a free meal.

          1. You would be doing the restaurant a FAVOR if you paid in cash. They pay a percentage for every credit card charge.

            1. I think you will see folks paying with credit cards more because most people do not carry that kind of cash with them. Considering what a meal at these restaruants cost, especially if you have wine with the dinner, a credit card is much more likely just because most people do not feel comfortable carrying $500 in cash in their pocket. As chaddict said, the restaurant is glad to have you pay cash, it saves them the fee for processing the credit card. In fact, I know one place where they will give you a 3% discount if you pay in cash. That is also why some small restaurants will not take credit cards.

              1. Ha, that reminds me of that urban legend that all the $20 bills in the nation during the '80s had traces of cocaine on them. . .

                Money's not dirty. It's money. And until I see people handling them with rubber gloves, I'll assume they're happy to get it. :-)

                3 Replies
                1. re: Covert Ops

                  Although it seems like a candidate for urban legend fodder, this one is actually true.


                  I'm really surprised no one has tried to taint the money supply with Anthrax yet.

                  And people do handle money with rubber gloves - I see people who work in toll booths all the time with gloves on. I know I would if I handled money all day.

                  1. re: LStaff

                    Ah, mea culpa. It's a bad day for me as a journalist when I use the phrase "urban legend" and fail to check Snopes.com first. Thanks for the correction. :-)

                    And yes, I have seen toll collectors using rubber gloves -- but not servers. I should have been more clear that those were the "people" I was referring to.

                    1. re: LStaff

                      I spoke with a health inspector in SF and he told me that money contains some sort of anti-contaminant. The subject came up when I asked about sandwich shops where the sandwich maker also handles the cash without wearing gloves or washing their hands in between. Personally, I could care less (travel to Yemen and all thoughts of health scores, etc. fly out the window) but my boss refused to eat at this place.

                  2. Not sure if it is an issue of rudeness, but alot of restaurants will actually prefer that you pay with credit (even after the surcharge).

                    This reduces the cash on hand, which reduces the risk of theft (both internally and externally).

                    1. I often pay for cash in high end dining because I'll save up slowly over months for a really expensive dinner, putting money aside in a jar when I can. Not sure how the restaurant feels, but is sure is fun to cram a $500 tab so full of $1s $5s $10s and $20s that you can't actually close it. You get some funny looks from the waiter, but I think they probably get a kick out of it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                        there's no right or wrong. it's easier to pay with a card (as long as that restaurant takes that praticular card- they all don't take the same) and if you don't have enough cash less embarrassing. however, if i'm going to get a sneer because i choose to pay cash, no matter how fantastic the meal was i wouldn't go back.

                      2. I was once at a place where just the reverse is true. They ONLY took credit cards, NO CASH!!! I mean, WTF? I think they were trying to establish a certain "type" of clientele! Don't know if it worked though.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: TexasToast

                          K Chocolatier in Brentwood strongly discourages cash, and usually will not give change.

                          1. re: BabyLitigator

                            How can they get away with that? If the item is marked with a price, how can they not give change? If I buy something for 15.99 and give them a twenty, I certainly would expect money back!!

                        2. All I know is don't try to pay in pennies .... trust me on this one, it doesn't end well...