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Jul 22, 2013 11:19 AM

Not accepting debit cards

Recently encountered a bar that said they no longer allow you to open tabs with a debit card. You either pay with your debit card or cash after every drink or start a tab with a card that doesn't say debit. Or you have to personally know the bartender. Has anyone heard of this before? I asked, doesn't matter if the debit card has visa/mc logo on it.

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  1. I have never encountered what you describe.....but i would find a new place to enjoy myself if they would not run a tab for me.

    1. That's odd. Does personally knowing the bartender mean you have money in your account? Sheesh.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Hobbert

        personally knowing the bartender is one of the best ways for discerning whether or not a customer is a REGULAR.

        regulars are the lifeblood of many restaurants.

        1. re: westsidegal

          I get that completely. But how would I become a "regular" if I couldn't start a tab. I work in the business. I've never heard of this.

          1. re: Bargirl65

            are you really saying that you can't think of how to become a regular unless you run a tab with your debit card? really? you can't think of one way?

            ok, i'll bite.
            1)on your way to the bar, stop at an ATM machine and get some cash (legal tender).
            pay with the cash.
            do that enough times and you will become a regular.
            3) get a line of credit so that you can get a credit card.
            then you can run a tab.

          2. re: westsidegal

            I get that but it doesn't guarantee you have money in the bank and is definitely off putting to newcomers.

            1. re: Hobbert

              most likely they have experienced some disasters with newcomers and their debit cards.

              most likely they have not experienced debit card disasters with regulars.

              they are trying to protect themselves from the risk of the newcomers' debit cards while holding on to the valued regular customers: those who have established a track record.

        2. I'd have to ask DH (in the business of all things online transactions, credit cards etc), but doesn't the business incur a transaction fee for debit as well as credit card?
          Also, many cards are credit and debit, and you chose.
          This seems odd.

          20 Replies
          1. re: monavano

            If the business pays a transaction fee for each debit card use, this policy would make even less sense than having the debit pay the whole tab at the end of the evening.
            Maybe it's because they've had a problem with people starting tabs with debit cards that have very low limits?

            1. re: monavano

              It didn't make sense but even if the card says visa they wouldn't take it because it says debit. I'm guessing they end up with a ton of $5 card charges on busy nights that has to add up to a ton of service fees.

              1. re: Bargirl65

                DH said that typically, debit fees are less than credit card fees, with the former being a set fee, and the latter being a percentage fee.
                What a pain to have to run the card for every drink though.

                1. re: Bargirl65

                  i've been told that service fees are charged as a percentage of the the tab. if this is so, they would not incur any more in the way of service fees by closing the tabs out drink by drink.

                2. re: monavano

                  if someone has $10 in their debit account, it would not be a good thing for the bar to allow them to run up a $200 tab and not be able to discover the shortfall until AFTER the bill was incurred. . . . .

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Yes, that's what I was thinking. Is this a college town perchance, or somewhere similar?

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      Nope. And apparently the bar has been around for some time. It's actually in a pretty nice area.

                      1. re: Bargirl65

                        People in nice area bounce checks, too.
                        I'm wondering, if on a credit card, the establishment will get paid, but if there is nothing in the debit account, they won't, right?

                        1. re: wyogal

                          That's my guess. But can't they preauthorize debit cards too?

                          1. re: Bargirl65

                            Not sure. I refuse to get a debit card. (I'm afraid I'll lose track)

                          2. re: wyogal

                            debit card fees are capped
                            so they can't exceed a certain dollar amount per transaction whereas credit card fees continue to grow as the underlying transaction amount grows.
                            I'll try to find out if there is something like debit card overdraft protection so the establishment gets paid even though there's not sufficient funds in that particular account, sort of like PayPal.
                            But, that might be the root of this policy.

                            1. re: monavano

                              Huh. That's interesting I wonder if that's what it is. I've just never heard of a place doing this before. Has anyone encountered this and if so how does the restaurant fare?

                              1. re: Bargirl65

                                so it's on a case by case basis whether a debit card has overdraft.
                                typically if your bank account is setup for overdraft protection, then your debit card would be as well

                                1. re: monavano

                                  For my debit card (chase) you have to opt in for it to cover purchases in excess of ur bank balance. But, I have to do that for my credit cards, too.

                            2. re: wyogal

                              i think you're right,
                              i think that how it works.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            That was my first reaction as well. Car rentals require a cash deposit if you are paying by debit. Hotels preauthorize the cost of the stay plus some to cover incidentals (or damages). I'm not surprised a bar wants to guarantee payment.

                          2. re: monavano

                            Yes, the business pays a fee for both debit and credit cards. Debit cards can also be used as credit cards - in that case the fee is the same.

                            If the debit card is used with a PIN number entered by the customer the fee is much lower than a credit card. That tends to happen at super markets, and drug stores, not restaurants.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              Thanks, Bob. Fortunately, DH was able to help me out with the brass tacks of card fee transactions, since that's what he does.
                              I've never used a debit card at a bar/resto myself.

                          3. I have never heard of this, either, but I agree with fourunder, find a place that makes it easy to pay for your drinks!

                            1. That doesn't even make sense to me. I'd find a new bar.