Visa Tap-N-Go Ads Piss Us Off

We loathe these Visa commercials. They show commerce going along like clockwork. People paying with their tap-and-go Visa card. Getting their donuts. Until one guy pay with cash. Everything screeches to a halt. He gets looks from the cashier and other customers. He leaves with his goods and his quaint “change,” chagrined. Man, you don’t wanna be that guy. No, you wanna be like the efficient credit card bots. They’re cool. Being in debt is cool. Who cares if they have 20% APRs.
Hey, TBWA/Chiat/Day/Schlockmeisters, for your next iteration, why not link paying with cash to terrorism?

Cash is nice. You don’t have to borrow money from anyone, even temporarily, to use it. There’s no terms of service or contract to sign. That’s because it’s money. Cold hard American cash. People shouldn’t be made to feel bad for using it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. mrosedal says:

    You know the funny thing is, that in most situations it is actually quicker to pay with cash than credit card…sure maybe at Starbucks it is about equal, but just about any other place. Case in point. I was in a gas station today picking up a drink. I happened to choose the wrong line where everyone was using credit. Seriously the other line was cranking out customers 3:1. And what made it worse was that I was paying in cash. The commercials are misleading if you use cash more power to you.

    Now to comment on the last part of the post. I purchase almost everything on credit…I very rarely have cash. But I pay everything off, in full, at the end of the month. I don’t have 20% apr, but even if I did I don’t have to worry about it. Best part is getting the cash back that I do. Many purchases at the Gap have been made with my Discover card rewards, and I don’t have to feel bad since I haven’t paid interest on that card but once. If you are careful with your purchases using the credit card can be beneficial.

  2. I won’t lie, I despise that commercial.

  3. drjayphd says:

    Not only do you Not Want To Be That Guy, but if you’re him, You’re Hurting America. At least if the commercials are to be believed. Anyone up for punching some ad executives in the face?

  4. The HZA. says:

    Aren’t those chips in those credit cards fairly easy to siphon?

  5. GreatMoose says:

    Man, those commercials make feel all stabby. My wife and i teach Dave Ramsey’s Financial peace courses, and one of the first you learn is “NO MORE CREDIT CARDS!” Use cash. Life is better that way.

    From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee, Visa!

  6. Fuzz says:

    Credit Cards aren’t so bad. . Cash is best for speed, clearly cheques are the worst .. but I really really can’t stand debit cards, mostly becuase no one carries cash anymore.

    Especially when someone uses them to pay for their coffee EVERY DAY. Just go get some cash, ’em kay? Or when you go to the grocery store and those retarded couples insist on splitting the bill between 2 debit cards! Takes like 5 minutes to process. Or when you go to the pub with a bunch of people, and everyone has to pay separately and line up at the bar with there fricken cards, one buy one punching the pin pad. . . don’t people carry cash anymore? Ughh… Man, I’m bitter today. Sorry.

  7. tcp100 says:

    These commercials are annoying, but I have no idea, Ben, where you get the idea that this has anything to do with promoting debt unless you’re part of the “oh no all credit / debit cards are evil” paranoids. They’re promoting use of visa debit and credit cards, for which Visa gets paid per transaction. Visa makes no money off the interest on your credit card, your bank does – and this ad is by Visa, not a bank. Consumerist off-base editorializing again FTW!

    They’re promoting paying with visa debit instead of cash. Their portrayal of it is inaccurate.

    If anything, a debit card lets you keep track of each purchase so you know what you spend. That’s financially more prudent for some.

    These commercials are obnoxious and they annoy me to no end, but only because they’re unrealistic and tacky – not because I think the promotion of electronic payments are a bad thing.

  8. tcp100 says:

    @heathermylove: Not really. The RFID works by public/private key exchange, usually 256-bit AES encrypted on the actual account data. You’d need a reader with current software (an active key – which is controlled by the issuing bank) which means you’d have to be an insider or stealing from a bank or merchant processor anyways.. Once you’re there, there are much easier ways to steal said data than going to the RFID at the point-of-sale.

  9. iDevin says:

    I’m also someone who uses a credit card for almost every transaction instead of cash. I detest cash. It’s dirtier, requires on the fly wallet filing, leaves more opportunity for mistakes, and you’re not covered if your wallet is stolen. Plus I’m missing out my personal favourite reasons for using a credit card for most transactions: the cashback rewards I get plus the fact that I can keep my money in my savings account longer thus generating more interest. (Buy item on the 3rd, statement on the 20th, credit card payment due the 15th of next month, pay in full on the 13th, you just made a couple bucks in interest).

    Now people who carry balances on their credit cards – that’s just silly but don’t forget debit cards do exist.

    Credit cards can make your money work harder for you if you know how to do it and you’re responsible about it.

  10. TehRev says:

    Meh. I don’t watch commercials let alone go watch them on youtube. Mute/change channel/dvr all means no commercials.

    Credit Cards don’t put people in debt, people put people in debt. just like Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    Take some responsibility. Just cause its there doesn’t mean you have to max it out. I hate people whining about how they bought a bunch of stuff they didn’t need and now are in debt, and then people blame credit cards. boo hoo. they are a tool and give me more back than cash.

    Self. Control. AND Personal. Responsibility.

    Cash is really only useful when buying illegal things.

  11. roothorick says:

    You do realize that those ads are for their CHECK CARDS, aka DEBIT CARDS, right? No debt involved here.

  12. djanes1 says:

    I classify these ads in the genre of “Ads made by isolated midtown marketing firms that are out of touch with the rest of America” because believe it or not, in other places people do not care so much about the efficiency of their daily choose-your-own-ingredient salad purchases. Also in this catagory I’d put the Skittles commercial where there is a Skittles leak in an apartment and the Super says “thats how we fix it”.

  13. nweaver says:

    Paying INTEREST on credit cards is evil.

    Using “check cards” are almost as evil.

    Paying your credit card bill, in full, every month, and you are a nice happy person.

    20% interest is pure evil.

  14. SadSam says:

    I gotta say that I had that cash/change snob commercial a ton. On the other hand I like the debit card/check writing commercial a ton (the one at the home improvement store with flowers and sunshine and then it gets dark when the woman pulls out her check book).

    In my humble opinion, credit cards suck but debit cards rule! And with Visa Extras (depending on your bank) you can get points for using your debit card just like you do with the credit card with no chance of going into debt.

  15. Giolon says:

    Ok that commercial is stupid, but I agree with the one they have where the person uses a check.

    Also, your atm card from most major banks doubles as a visa debit card, so no debt involved there.

  16. tcp100 says:

    @roothorick: C’mon, man, if that were admitted, there’d be no big faceless corporation to skewer in defense of the little guy, absolving said average joe of all personal responsibility. This is the Consumerist. Reality is often only a quaint, cute idea here. I hear they’re working on it, though.

    @DJANES1: Very, very true. That’s one of the first things I thought about this ad; it’s skewed to a certain audience where an extra 3 seconds can get you eye rolls from 25 people in a line.

  17. nweaver says:

    Also, the second one is a generic add for Visa, NOT the debit cards, but the credit cards as well.

  18. uricmu says:

    Actually, these ads are for debit cards rather than credit cards so you don’t borrow from anyone.

    On the other hand, you have to tap in your PIN, wait for validation, and all that crap. In fact, when using any plastic, you spend a lot of time until the store gets validation anyway. A lot of trays would be crashing in that time.

  19. Thrust says:

    It takes nothing to copy someone’s creditcard numbers so the only real security you have on the blasted things are your signature and the CCV number. These purchases don’t require either of those things so this spells disaster.

    And yeah, what a f**king annoying commercial.

  20. Yankees368 says:

    These commericals piss me off because 90% of the time, waving your card by the reader is no different than simply swiping your card. Let’s take 7-11 for example. When I use my mastercard paypass there, the POS pad processes it simply as a regular debit card. It procedes to ask me CREDIT/DEBIT. If I select DEBIT, i must wait for it to process, enter my PIN, say no to cash back, and then finally check to see if the amount is correct! To me, this is 10 times slower than cash in any case. Though If for some reason I select CREDIT, that is the only step required.

    In other cases, such as most movie theatres, when the clerk asks for payment, I wave my paypass by the reader and that is all. That, and the NYC subway Lexington Ave line are really the only 2 places where it works as shown in the commericals.

  21. tcp100 says:

    @nweaver: Not sure why you say “check cards” are evil? Any basis on this?
    Check cards let you track expenses. Check cards get you rewards. Check cards let you dispute purchases. What’s the problem there?

    Again, Visa is not the one making money off your interest; the bank that uses the Visa network on their cards does. Visa makes a fixed amount per transaction; there interest is to have you make more transactions – not rack up debt. Visa could care less how much interest you rack up. The consumerist should do an article on how credit cards actually work..

    Visa and Mastercard are credit processing networks. Many third party banks (BOA, Wells Fargo, Citibank) use Visa and MC for their credit cards. Discover, and up until recently, American Express are both processing networks AND banks. American Express recently started allowing other banks to use their processing networks (hence the MBNA, now BOA Amex cards that recently became available.)

    When you make a credit card purchase, a portion goes to the merchant’s bank (to process the deposit), a portion (2-5%) goes to Visa to process the transaction to your bank, and the bank then makes money off the interest or fees of the charge or withdrawal.

    Usually, it’s the merchant who bears the cost of these transaction fees; a tradeoff many merchants take, as accepting credit/debit cards increase traffic and the amount spent in stores.

    So, if you’re going to blame, learn what you’re talking about, and blame the right people. Still, regardless of how ‘cool’ anyone does make it sound, debt is the responsibility of the consumer – and even at 20%, there are times when it can be a life saver. (Say, when you’re out of work for an extended time and need car repair or must pay a heat bill.)

  22. tcp100 says:

    @Thrust: Nope. No-signature no-pin transactions on Visa and MC are currently limited to $25, and without a signature, the merchant bears all the risk of fraud. They would be defenseless in the face of a dispute or chargeback, and the consumer has full recourse. … Whereas if someone takes your cash, you’re screwed, eh?

  23. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Paying 20% interest on ANYTHING is pretty stupid, but I must reiterate the fact that credit is NOT evil. Using cash will not turn someone into a responsible spender overnight. There is nothing wrong with using a credit card for everyday purchases. Pay your statement in full every month and reap cash-back rewards from the “evil” credit card company. I, for instance, refuse to carry cash. I just don’t like to do it. If an establishment does not accept plastic I simply go somewhere else. Cash is easily lost and earns no value sitting in my pocket. I also refuse to believe that a commercial such as that encourages irresponsible consumer behavior.

  24. confirmedink says:

    Now that everyone has gotten the “it’s a DEBIT card, not a CREDIT card” observation out of the way…I have to ask, who out there is able to make such quick debit card transactions? In my experience, I have to swipe my card, enter my PIN (and cover up the keypad so no one else sees or no surreptitious camera captures it), then agree to the amount, then indicate if I want cash back, and then verify the sale again. Still quicker than writing a check, but I think cash is the fastest. And not all places take debit cards – I was actually at a parking garage where the attendant demanded cash or CHECK. I almost fell out of my car laughing when she suggested writing a check.

  25. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    The only one I agree with is the one where everyone is zooming through the garden store and then some woman pays with a check. I work at a retail store, let me tell you, checks are just annoying. Half the time, people who pay with checks are running some sort of scam too.

  26. James Del says:

    THANK YOU for calling this commercial out. It’s pissed me off for far too long. As I’m sure the NYers here know, delis DESPISE when people use a credit card, to the point where they set charge limits (though I hate having to go to an ATM to buy a gyro). In a perfect world, debit tags would work like the commercial, but in reality they just piss off cashiers as they wait for validation.

  27. kaikhor says:

    These commercials annoy me to no end. I usually want to scream when I see them. As for “it’s quicker” I have worked retail and the only time a credit card was faster was when someone was paying with change or something similar. With a credit card, it takes easily 2 times as long…

  28. forrester says:

    I too despise these commercials however I despise the visa/mc (I cant remember who) elephant pay pass card commercials more. The only thing that those elephant commercials teach you is that ANYONE including a freaking elephant can use your card without a signature! what was visa/mc thinking making those ones

  29. ldt says:

    The assumption that if you use credit cards, you must be in debt somehow is infuriating and ridiculous. I know many people who use credit cards as budgeting tools (and pay off their balances in full every month–OMG, I know that this is just UNHEARD OF), happily earn rewards, and treat credit cards simply as a financial tool–not as the path to financial ruin or a nefarious credit-card-company trick.

    I am terribly sick of consumers blaming credit cards for their problems. The consumer has complete and utter control over his finances! This lack of accountability as soon as “credit” is mentioned is just mind-boggling and inane. Take some responsibility!

  30. tcp100 says:

    @ldt: “I am terribly sick of consumers blaming credit cards for their problems. The consumer has complete and utter control over his finances! This lack of accountability as soon as “credit” is mentioned is just mind-boggling and inane. Take some responsibility!”

    THANK YOU! This sums it up so nicely. It’s always easier to blame someone else, though. Very few things in life are done without any choice. If an ad convinces someone to do something detrimental and they don’t take the responsibility to find out more about it, it doesn’t say very much about that person, does it?

  31. JustAGuy2 says:

    Anyone who pays with cash or a debit card when a credit card is accepted is, frankly, financially irresponsible. A responsible person would get a no-fee card with cash back (I have the Fidelity Visa, get 1.5% cash back, no minimum, no maximum), and pay for everything with that.

    I never pay a dime of interest, since I always pay my bill on time.

    I get the benefit of the interest since the money sits in MY account until the credit card bill is due.

    Since my CC bill averages $3k/month, I save 3000*12*.015=$540/year in cash back, plus I get about 3000*.05=$150/year in extra interest because of the interest-free loan my credit card company is supplying me.

    So, if I paid for everything in cash, I’d be throwing away about $700/year.

  32. DeeJayQueue says:

    Credit/debit cards don’t get wrinkled or disorganized. You only need 1 card to process a transaction (as opposed to many different bills plus coin) and most wallets/purses have easily accessible credit card slots in them. I can’t tell you often people piss me off who have to dig into the bottom of their pockets to find $.13 because they think it’s more convenient to give me correct change. Or the ladies that upend their gigantic purses because they keep cash in 15 different places and each bill is wadded up in some sort of post-modern origami orgy. Oh, then instead of handing me the money, they leave it on the counter, as if that’s supposed to mean “here, take my wad of currency, you’re not worth the effort of straightening this out.”
    Or there are the ladies that keep their money hidden behind the impenetrable folds of their zippered purse, folded, snapped, zippered, velcro wallet, and clipped change purse. Once they carefully leaf out their precious $20, it takes an ikea furniture designer and half an hour to put it all back together again, and they have to do it right in front of the counter so that nobody else can be rung up.

    Even if people have cash ready, that puts the speed of the transaction squarely on the shoulders of the cashier. In some instances that’s ok because the cashier knows how to move quickly, but sometimes they are slow, slower than the approval processfor a credit card.

    I don’t mind the commercials where debit/credit is faster than cash. The commercial I really really loathe is the one where the lady is having a bad day and the people come out of nowhere like in that Bjork video and her day just gets so much better when she starts charging everything in sight. As bad as that is, it’s made even worse because she buys all these terrible things that she’ll regret buying in 10 days and then try to return.

  33. JustAGuy2 says:

    Oh, and one other thing: you say that cash is good because “you don’t have to borrow from anyone, even temporarily, to use it.” When someone offers you a loan at 0% interest, only an idiot would refuse to take it.

  34. TheName says:

    Funny; I hate these commercials as much as the next guy but not for the reasons everyone else is spouting. I hate them for the face that we’re all cogs in the greased machinery of capitalist society. Deep down in my heart I am aware that I’m a mindless automaton slaving away for corporate overlords but I don’t want a commercial to remind me of–indeed, glorify it!–that fact.

    Now I know, by carrying cash I can briefly derail the whole contraption! Woo hoo!

  35. lastfm says:

    Who knew VISA check cards carry “20% APRs.”

  36. Asherah says:

    @JustAGuy2: I believe the stronger argument would be don’t take the loan, regardless. Just because you can borrow money doesn’t mean you should. Good for you that you make money off of your credit card use, if you can use it and abuse the man, so be it. Most people are climbing their way out of debt (which they admittedly put themselves in), thus having another credit card would not be beneficial.

  37. beyond says:

    Uh, the first video I liked! They are all running around like bots, and the cash guy slows everyone down, but look at his face as he leaves! You can just see him thinking “what a bunch of debtor freaks!”

  38. smallestmills says:

    NO I WILL NOT USE CASH. I have a debit/credit card, and I LOVE tap and go. I am smart and know how to control my finances. If I want to use my card for a $1.09 purchase at 7/11 every morning, good for me, because now I don’t even have to sign, I can just TAP, and GO. I keep $20 on me for times when I can’t use my card, and my balance is sent to me daily via email and text, plus I manage my account online. If someone wants to rob me, cool, they get my $20 (which is why I keep it), and if they get the card (and the PIN, heaven forbid), I make a phone call and wait three days for a new one.
    As an aside, does anyone from the Detroit area remember those PSAs on Saturday mornings about the “Smart way to watch television?”

  39. JustAGuy2 says:


    It’s very simple: if someone offers to give you money for free, take it. Put it in the back and let it earn interest for YOU, until he wants it back. Saying no to an interest free loan is just throwing money away.

  40. asherchang says:

    What the cashier has to do when customer pays with card (at my dad’s store):
    Key in the price, pres [subt], receive the credit card, ask for ID, compare the names, swipe the card, give it back, key in the amount, wait for approval, rip out first receipt, give to customer to sign, rip out second receipt, press [ch] and push back the opening drawer, staple receipts together, give to customer.

    What the cashier has to do with cash:
    Key in the price, pres [subt], key in payment, press [cash], count out money, push back drawer, rip out receipt, give change and receipt to customer.

    Although I admit that these commercials show stores with a really quick to use credit card reader, many places won’t have these things. (And they seem to facilitate credit fraud from what I can tell too).

  41. bluegus32 says:

    That commercial creeps me the hell out.

    It’s a little to “Brave New World” for me.


  42. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    I don’t mind using credit cards; it’s actually faster in many cases provided: they don’t make you sign for it (more places are doing this, hooray!) and they have a real connection to the clearing center, not a modem that makes a POTS call every time you swipe a card. One lunch place around here requires about 4 seconds for a credit card transaction, another, about 30. It’s unreal.

  43. NickRB says:

    I agree with TCP1000. The ads are for the VISA network and not the bank. They have nothing to do with getting deeper into debt. To be honest I never carry cash, because of the risk of losing it. If I lose my card, however, I’m not responsible for any fraudulent charges and can dispute a charge if I’m given a shoddy product.

    Also, I think an article on how credit cards actually work would be great. I believe most people would be surprised to learn that the bank never actually puts their own money at risk. They actually “monetize” your signature and “create” the cash that they send to the merchant. Under the consumer fair credit and reporting act, you have the right to stop payment and demand “validation of the debt”. You are asking for proof of whose funds were originally put at risk to create this debt. Because of the way the credit card system works, the bank cannot “prove” the debt. You can then sue the bank to prove the debt. They will refuse and simply not show up in court and lose the case by default. Even if you don’t show up in court, the bank will not be able to prove the debt and you will not have to pay it back. Sounds like everyone should do it right? WRONG, although you can certainly rack up a huge bill and then not pay it back, legally., the bank can still ruin your credit by reporting it as a charge off. Normally with a charge off the bank can collect the debt at anytime in the future. In this case they cannot, but they are allowed to report it this way anyway. You will have a very tough time getting credit for the next several years until you reestablish a good credit history.

    And if you really want to be thrown for a loop, take a look at your credit/debit card and how your name is written and compare that to your birth certificate. Notice a difference? Your birth certificate will spell your name John Smith and your credit card will spell your name JOHN SMITH. When the gold standard was eliminated all money was thus eliminated. A private corporation called the “Federal Reserve Bank”, generated a new monetary system based on debt. No actually money is involved. In fact, if every debt that is owed in US currency was repaid there would be absolutely no money in circulation! The rules to set this up created a couple of loopholes. Banks use your name in ALL CAPS to loan and collect money from you. This is called Novation. The ALL CAPS JOHN SMITH is actually a seperate legal entity for the sole purpose of collecting debt and repaying debt. But you are not actually JOHN SMITH you are John Smith. Because of this, you can create a lien on JOHN SMITH from John Smith and thus stop all creditors from collecting from you!! Again, they’ll RUIN JOHN SMITH’S credit rating and that’s how you get credit through this other entity.

  44. Jasmo says:

    @smallestmills: Welcome to the machine! We love quick learners like you!

  45. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    I actually dig the commercials and think they’re a pretty cool idea. Also, if you’re responsible with a credit card, I don’t see the big deal. I hate carrying cash and it’s not because I don’t have any in my checking or savings account. It’s just easier to keep track of by using either a debit card or a check card. Also, with Amex Blue or Chase Freedom, getting rewards ain’t that bad of a thing. Ouch about the APR. I don’t even think I had that kind of APR when I got my first credit card in college. I guess I should also mention that I’m a Quicken junkie who stays on top of his money like white on rice. I’d hate to see what everyone thinks about the awful cell phone ads out there. Talk about something I loathe…

  46. miborovsky says:

    Cash is troublesome. I don’t like 30 coins of different denominations jiggling in my pockets, or having to shuffle through 40 pieces of green to find a $5. And you can’t play the float if you pay cash. ;)

  47. scootinger says:

    At least the first ad is for a Visa check card, which is a debit card and not a credit card.

    And I agree, even though I pay for practically anything with a CC myself since it’s convenient for me. (no cash/change to carry around) Anyways it takes about as long for the terminal to process the credit/debit transaction as it does for the cashier to hand change to a cash customer.

  48. DaWezl says:

    I think the VISA commercial that bothers me the most is the one where the zookeeper is sick and the elephant takes his pass card and goes out to buy the keeper things like soup. How can any of us avoid being ripped off if storekeepers don’t even notice a freaking elephant using someone else’s card?!

  49. AaronM says:

    I don’t care what you think this says about commercialism…that’s some really good filmmaking right there. Tells a great story in an entertaining way, and definitely sells the product without being ridiculous or annoying like a lot of commercials.

  50. Ben Popken says:

    @AaronM: I’ll have to admit from a purely aesthetic standpoint, they’re excellent.

  51. ldt says:

    @JustAGuy2: Yes! Just use the credit card like you would cash/check/debit, pay it off, and earn rewards. It’s not a “loan”–it’s called a freaking budget, which everyone should have no matter what.

    I swear, the Consumerist is quite possibly the first place I’ve been to that’s tried to guilt people not only for using credit cards reasonably and responsibly, but to the consumer’s financial benefit.

  52. Ola says:

    I hate that commercial too. It’s an good commercial, but the message is really annoying. I frequently try to use cash, for various reasons (among them: it’s easier to literally watch how much you’re spending). I often feel like I’m rushed along, without even time to take my change and stow it in my wallet. (@deejayqueue: I’m not one of those people with a fussy wallet or purse at all, for precisely that reason!) Strangely enough, it isn’t always a matter of the cashier being fast too. Often they are very slow, which makes everyone behind you eager and impatient for you to get going so the cashier can slo-o-wly ring them up too!

  53. balthisar says:

    I don’t get where all you guys are saying that cash is faster than a credit car? Sure, at some mom-and-pop places that don’t have a terminal on a dedicated line you have to wait for the modem to dial, negotiate, and all that crap, but for the vast majority of places, there’s a dedicated, full time connection and approval is instant.

    Here’s a hint: swipe your card while your order is being rung up. If the terminal is too stupid to recognize your credit card as a credit card, you can hit the credit button, too, while you’re waiting.

    Don’t go on about self-serve checkouts — that’s where cash is even slower; you have to wait while someone figures out how to put in their wrinkley $1 bills.

    Now I’m not saying that cash is unacceptably slow like depicted in the commercial — that’s just insane. But in my many, many years of using credit cards, they’re faster.

    Well… if your stripe is damaged, then you’re worse than those damn senior citizens and their decrepit checks! Sometimes, though, your stripe is good and the stores have shitty/marginal readers.

  54. Nick says:

    Am I the only one who agrees with these commercials lol?

    Why is this even newsworthy?

    I use my Visa or PayPal MasterCard for every item I purchase. Cell phone bill, 95 cent hot chocolate from 7-Eleven, $3.15 lunch from Wendy’s, $999 laptop computer. I always use credit, almost without fail. I despise cash. It has pretty much no place in my life. I can’t think of anything that I buy that makes me use cash as a payment method… so I don’t. It is a lot slower because people have to sit and find the right bills and coins, then give it to the cashier, then wait for the cashier to get the change and count out the right bills and coins again. Bleh. Lame. I think using a card is always the same as or faster than using cash. Plus, the real advantage is that I don’t have to carry around change or bills. If someone gets my cash, it’s gone forever. If someone gets my credit card, there’s no loss to me at all. Visa and MasterCard both will double the warranty of any product you purchase using your card. Credit cards automatically track your spending, allowing you to easily see where you money goes and better manage your budget. Even without putting rewards into the equation, credit cards definitely seem smarter all the way around.

    But there are rewards, which make credit cards and even more obvious choice. Why ever use cash when you can get at least 1% cash back? Just pay off your card in full each month (or, in the case of the PayPal MasterCard, it is a debit card with 1% cash back, so it just pulls directly from checking). I agree with previous the commenter who said that people are responsible for their own debt. You CAN use credit cards responsibly. It’s really not that difficult. It’s called don’t by things you can’t afford, and the Consumerist already told us this a few months ago.

  55. GinaLouise says:

    I detest those commercials! I thought I was the only one. It is almost ALWAYS quicker to pay in cash. Let’s say I buy something with debit at Safeway. I have to a) swipe card b) choose cash/debit c) enter my pin number d) decide whether I want cash back e) choose cash back amount. With credit, I have to a) swipe card b) sign my name c) confirm the amount. And of course, you have to wait either way for the transaction to process. With cash, I hand over the money and the cashier gives me back change. That’s it. I don’t know where this magical “tap and go” retail fairyland is, but I’ve never been to it.

  56. chili_dog says:

    OK, the commercials are annoying and as an owner I am minutely aware that the cash customer is a better deal for me. But the fact remains that I RARELY carry cash. I hate it. Cash results in change, and change pisses me off, rattling in my pocket scuffing up my cell phone and so on.

    It is however interesting how righteous some here are over the evils of credit card use because it’s not about the tool, but how one utilizes it. Besides, Visa is all about increasing its’ market share and the commercials are massively powerful in creating the consumer attitude that will do just that.

  57. rbdfoxes says:

    Nothing like a good dose of shame and public ridicule to push your product.

  58. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Speaking of credit cards. I’ve read some reviews on credit cards over at fivecent and blueprint, but any chance of starting a thread about the best rewards for your buck? I know there’s the whole arbitrage thing, but after the freebies in the beginning, what card offers the best value?

    Also, as far as change, I get tired of having to scrounge around all the change in my apartment. Nothing more annoying than hanging up your pants and hearing the change hit the floor. I have this giant ziplock bag in my room filled with change. Thank God for Commerce Bank and their free change machine.

  59. HawkWolf says:

    hate the commericals. not ashamed to use a debit card for most transactions.

    I understand that cash allows you a level of forced control that debit cards do not. I also understand that it’s trivial to figure out exactly how much I’ve spent on what when I download transactions periodically.

  60. jetfxr27 says:

    “Cash vs. Credit Cards

    When you pay cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a credit card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. If you use credit cards instead of cash you will spend 12-18% more. This is money you could have saved.

    If you “have to” use plastic, I suggest a debit card. I use them for travel and the occasional convenience of ordering something over the Internet or phone. Other than that, I use cash.

    Personal finance is 80% behavior. You need to cut out habits that make you spend more. You do not build wealth with credit cards. Use common sense. When you play with a multi-billion dollar industry and you think you’re going to win at their game, you are naive. You cannot beat the credit card companies.”


  61. GreatMoose says:

    That’s exactly what we teach our students. My wife and I were never in credit card debt, but we DID use the card for EVERYTHING and paid it off every month. Then we went through the financial peace course. Totally changed the way we spend money. Everything we have is paid for, our retirements are fully funded, we have a 6 month emergency fund, and the house will be paid off in less than 2 year. And we’re both under 30 years old. It’s a great feeling.

  62. D-Bo says:

    These commercials are quite annoying, the assumption being that you (as a consumer) are a hassle to others because you choose to pay in cash.

    Like Forrester, I hated the Mastercard Paypass commercial where the elephant takes the zookeepers card and goes around town charging items like chicken soup and medicine. The commercial said to me that stealing your money with this service is so easy even a wild animal could do it, or do you think the elephant was an authorized user on the account?

    Lastly, I think this site should demonstrate to all those above who rave about how they use their credit cards that things don’t always work as advertised. While I agree in personal responsibility, how many horror stories have we read on this site about how responsible people get screwed by banks all the time. Cash is king. I am more worried about my bank stealing my money than being mugged on the street.

  63. goodkitty says:

    It’s no worse than the recent slew of “Captain” rum ads that say being a jerk is cool. Or any number of DeVry or similar ads that make it seem like an associate’s degree is worth the paper its printed on, or truly predatory lender ads or credit repair ads. Personally I’d love to have a more secure pay system than cash and PIN-based debit (which is like carrying your whole bank account with you!), or worse, the ‘trust me’ credit card system.
    On the corporate advertising evil scale of 1-10, this gets a 3.

  64. FLConsumer says:

    Don’t buy shit you can’t afford (pay your bills on time, losers) and get a real credit card — no one should ever pay that much interest even if they did screw up. My “worst” credit card has a 9% interest rate, best is 7.9%, and none of these are introductory rates. Then again, not sure why I bother to look — I DO pay my bills off on time.

  65. mobbo says:

    This commercial is BS. As a merchant myself… I LOVE CASH! I have to fork over anywhere from 2 – 11 cents per transaction if a customer uses credit/debit. I find it funny that the merchants look pissed that someone is using cash!!!

  66. jetfxr27 says:

    @GreatMoose: Good Job!

    Me and my wife are under thirty , no debt, 6 months living expenses and are currently saving half our income towards our first home purchase this fall. Once in the house it should be payed off in 5 years. However 2 would be nice.

  67. nroberts says:

    I find I’m more annoyed by those Visa commercials set to the Rolling Stones “I’m Free”. You know, the one where they imply that you can call in and change the reward options on your Visa card at “any old time.” You can change from cash back to miles, or from miles to cash back, or any number (which is to say ZERO) other options!

    Really, the message here is that Visa makes poor ads in addition to being a poor company.

  68. side says:

    YES! Finally someone says something. I despise those commercials. How on earth is paying cash slower than running a credit card…it’s CASH! The only thing worse is writing a check. Do they still do that in the states? These commercials make me want to put my foot through my TV.

  69. night_sky says:

    Contrary to this commercial, my g/f has gotten eyerolls from using her debit for insignificant purchages (ie. 7-Eleven). Why? Because it would actually be faster to pay cash.

    Atleast with cash you don’t have the chance of having your pin stolen along with your funds from an outdated computer system (ie. 7-Eleven). Unfortunately, if you get mugged, there goes all your cash… probably all your credit and debit cards too.

  70. LTS! says:

    If you’ve been through a system that does not require a signature then paying cash is definitely slower than using your card, even if you are swiping it. At the grocery store I swipe a card, push the button that says credit.. and if the amount is under $25… no signature required. Boom done.

    If I pay in cash I have to HAND it to the cashier, who then has to enter in what I gave, and THEN count the change… which.. given the lackeys that perform this work most of the time is a real chore for them. If the machine doesn’t tell them the change then it’s another 5 minutes waiting for the simple math to be done.

    Plus, there are no cash rewards.

    I’d like to the see the original posting corrected however to make note of the excellent points being made here. Leaving it as is really just makes the site look trashier because of it’s inaccuracies. (ie. this is a cash card, it’s a Visa commercial, not a bank commercial, etc.)

  71. mac-phisto says:

    @tcp100: actually, the card-issuer bears the responsibility for all these non-signature transactions under $25 (i think it’s actually as high as $50 in some cases). gas pumps, convenience stores, fast food joints – the new “no-sign” transactions fall under what is known as the “merchant floor limit”. your card issuer has ZERO chargeback rights under this limit (as long as an authorization to process was received).

    but yeah, you’re still protected.

  72. aikoto says:

    RFID credit cards are SO STUPID! How easy will it be to make covert charges to people by just walking around on a train with a reader?


  73. anatak says:

    Great post, Ben. I find, more often than not, that these commercials are the exact opposite of reality. Who would have thought, a debt-monger like Visa spending millions on an ad campaign to get you to buy into their lies. I also find it interesting how Visa and MC started promoting debit cards by using even more irresponsible financial behavior than that of their credit commercials. I’m sure they see it as a gateway drug.

    I also can’t stop laughing at these people claiming that cash is difficult/cumbersome/inconvenient to use or carry around. Right, because you routinely have ~$8k in loose change in you purse. Too lazy to sort through a few bills to find a 5? Wow. Don’t have to wonder too long how that $700+ billion owed on credit cards came about.

  74. glitterpig says:

    Oh, this one drives me nuts. Anyone working in a small business where people buy things in small amounts LOVES people who pay with cash. No vendor wants to give 60 cents to Visa with every sale, especially when the sale is something like a $3 ice cream cone. Goodbye, profit! (Or hello, price increases! And then everyone loses, except, of course, Vias.)

  75. Oh, come on. This is an add for a debit card, which incurs no interest or fees. Debit cards are handed out for free when you open a bank account, which by all Consumerist advice is a Good Idea.

    I happen rather to like these ads for the simple reason that they’re absolutely true to life. I hate sitting in line behind some jackass luddite who needs three and a half minutes to fish out a checkbook, get nice and comfy with the pen, and finally commit a divinely-inspired writ to his precious carbon-papered clown checks. Same goes for cash. You know that the bulk of US pennies remain out of circulation? Why contribute to that waste by using cash?

    Consumers are even more pressed for time than they are money. You’d shave several hours, in aggregate, off of your year if you and your shopping companions never wasted time using antiquated instruments like checks.

  76. acambras says:


    Yeah, twice this week I’ve made small purchases (<$10) at small businesses. Both had policies of accepting plastic for purchases only above $10. I know that’s not kosher with the card companies, and I could have raised a big stink about it if I’d wanted to (or even reported them to MC/Visa later). But the storekeepers were very nice and helpful, and I can see where they’re coming from on this.

    I use plastic almost all the time, but I also try to have a little cash on hand for when I got to small local stores and businesses.

  77. pfkfinance says:

    It’s scary how they are trying to make us believe we need to use credit for everything. I used to use my check card a lot but started noticing that I would sometimes over spend and not even realize it. The check card can be dangerous if your not careful in my book. Especially how some banks re-order deposits and withdrawals trying to get you to overdraft your account.

  78. The commercials are dumb and inaccurate.

    1) Credit/debit is NOT faster than cash unless you’re trying to pay with a bunch of dimes and nickles.
    2) You can’t write a check anywhere, anymore without them also demanding you put a phone numbers and a driver’s license number on it too. (God forbid your wallet is lost or stolen).
    3) In the real world when someone scowls at you for handing them money you take your money someplace else.

  79. mattbrown says:

    You’ve made me drop my coffee into my can of paint one too many times, sir!

  80. mac-phisto says:

    @Danilo Campos: i don’t really need to shave hours off my year. i’m not usually in a rush when i’m shopping & i know i’ll live longer not being all stressed about how the guy in front of me decides to pay his tab.

    in fact, checkout is quite an amusing time for me as i get to watch how incessantly impatient & socially inept most shoppers really are.

    i don’t see one transaction as inherently faster than another. they all take about 30 – 60 seconds. use what you like.

  81. Kenton Davis says:

    Teh ad ticks me off for an altogether different reason: using a credit card in the lunch line actually SLOWS things down. Cash is quicker than waiting for authorization and signing the slip

  82. says:

    i love cash. NO PAPERTRAILS.

  83. Starfury says:

    I’m only a little paranoid, but one thing people forget is that all of those Visa/MC transactions can be tracked. If you pay cash then there’s not paper trail. Since I have nothing (much) to hide I tend to use my Amazon card and pay if off monthly. I like getting the $25 gift cards from Amazon on a fairly regular basis.

  84. tvh2k says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    USING A CREDIT CARD IS NOT EVIL. It’s often faster and saves you money if you’re the kind of person who loses change (coins). It also offers you cash back.

    Not paying your bill in full on time is evil, but that’s your fault. Who wants a loan at 20% APR?


  85. ltlbbynthn says:

    when I see those commercials I wonder why the cashier is so dumb she can’t make change.

  86. Major-General says:

    I don’t like them because how I pay should be MY choice, not someone else’s. Cash, check, debit/credit, gold bars, silver dust, paypal (ugh), it’s my choice. Generally I don’t carry cash, and used to write checks (when I lived in Kansas) or credit (airmiles back on my debit card). But if I want to drop a fiver at Starbucks, I think it’s no slower than having to sign for it.

    What annoys me is the swipe it yourself stations that if you choose credit the clerk says “we need to see it and some ID” but not if I had processed it debit. I don’t trust that after having my debit card information stolen while it never left my possession.

  87. Jasmo says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    CASH IS NOT INCONVENIENT. You people are all acting like we use giant rocks for currency. Cash is like 1-2-3 simple. No pins, signatures, no “tap”, no phone connection, no far-off database recording your spending habits, no “oops a fee”, no bill to pay, no direct connection to your bank account … so what if in some instances cash might be a few seconds slower – who cares? Just because it’s new and all snappy-tappy doesn’t mean you have to buy into it …

  88. Karunamon says:

    Ok, firstly, did you people even watch the commercial before commenting? These are CHECK CARDS, not CREDIT CARDS. The major difference being that one is linked directly to your checking account, i.e. its a check without the hassle of writing one. You are making it sound like credit is evil and the devil, which it only is if you can’t be arsed to keep your bills paid up.

    This would work a lot better if the major stores let you run your card without signing for it. (A good example is McDonalds.. you dont have to sign unless your spending more than 25$)

    Now, the folks who bring everything to a screeching halt by writing an actual check FROM SCRATCH, need to die. Srsly, who writes checks anymore?

  89. venterminator says:

    Cash is also mentally more difficult to spend than credit / debit. It’s a lot harder to hand over a crisp 100.00 for a pile of clothes than it is to charge it, at least for most. So there’s a built in spending constraint.

    People who write checks in the checkout line need to be gutted with a spoon.

  90. kubus_gt says:

    Hey Ben, get an intern to do a little research for you next time. Then again looks like 80% of posters missed it too.
    Oh and the creative is by OMD NY so don’t blame me and please fast forward next time, that’s what Tivos are for.

  91. Sonnymooks says:

    I’m trying to remember that credit card that used to be attached to your keys, you just swiped it and were good to go.

    Anyone know which company that was?

  92. FijianTribe says:

    The sad thing is that I have gone to many stores including the movie theaters and drive thru places and NONE of them have a working device.

    They all have the devices, but none of them work….

  93. bkaid says:

    the guy paying cash in the commercial probably used a credit card cash advance or a pay day loan to get this cash.

  94. NoProfit says:

    Debit cards do have a place for some purchases. Having said that it is very irritating for a small business owner to get one in payment for a $2.00 item. First the item costs $1.00, $.65 transaction fee, lights, rent, help and last but not least a PROFIT! So what are we left with because some customers are to lazy to carry a few bucks with them. It is less expensive for me to give the item away or have them come back with cash. The big guys can take the hit, but think about your local merchant when you whip out your debit card. Of course there are people who ask ” Do you have to pay a fee?” Too bad the commercials do not mention that little fact.

  95. JustAGuy2 says:


    Just for the record, anybody who believes this claptrap and actually acts upon it is likely to end up in jail for tax evasion.

  96. synergy says:

    Oh good! I’m glad I’m not the only one annoyed as hell with this. And for the record, I’ve seen transactions go faster with cash. Well, as long as either the cashier can count or the retard on the register has one of those coin-counting machines so they don’t have to take 5 years to figure out what coin combination would be needed for, e.g., 57 cents in change. :-p

  97. Athena79 says:

    I hate these commercials too. I worked in a deli and then in retail stores for 7 years and I always try if possible to give the amount that make it easiest on the cashier to make change. Sometimes this means fishing change out of my wallet. I shouldn’t be made to feel bad for trying to pay in exact change.

  98. MrEvil says:

    If I was the boss of a cashier that got annoyed at someone paying with cash they’d be on thin ice with me. I run a small business and thought about accepting credit cards with a reader attached to my cell phone. The processor wanted 3% of the transaction total + 25 cents. Despite the fact that most of my transactions are minium $50 I decided to not go with it. My customers all have checkbooks and have no qualms about writing one.

    @NickRB: Dude, you seriously need to take off the tinfoil hat. The reason your name is in caps on your credit card is it makes for a much cheaper and less complicated Die-stamp machine. If the machine did both upper and lower case, you would have to have 52 total dies at each letter posistion as opposed to 26 when you have just one case. Not everyone’s name is the same length and some folks with surnames like MacElroy (for example) have unusual capitalization. It also makes the time to stamp a card shorter as the dies can change faster. Changing the case of your name means nothing as upper and lower case is merely a linguistic custom.

    As far as going off the gold standard. Gold is a finite resource, while we haven’t neccessarily mined 100% of the gold in the Earth’s crust, there’s only going to be so much of it (gold being an element you can’t easily make more either). The problem is in order for an economy to grow the supply of money has to grow along with it. When you link your currency to a finite resource you limit the growth of your economy.

    de facto currency isn’t neccessarily evil. Before people had a medium of excahnge be it coin or paper, people practiced pure barter where you traded something of worth to someone that wanted it. However, pure barter doesn’t work always because you might not always find someone that wants what you have and has what you want. Medium of exchange on the other hand is a sort of proof that you provided something of worth to someone else and it really doesn’t matter if that medium has any tangible value by itself.

  99. fashionista says:

    I always thought those commercials were hilarious! The cash-paying customer basically stop the world from spinning and once he/she leaves, all is well in the universe again – of course, not before vilifying the cash wielding cretin! LOL! You gotta love modern day marketing. It really is kind of diabolical if you examine it closely: the commercial shuns/disdains the one thing everyone wants more of: cash. It also encourages debit/credit card use which is a double-edged sword of sorts. On one edge, people are already spending out of control and not paying close enough attention to debt levels until its too late. On the other edge, the readers used to capture your bank card information is so easily manipulated by scammers that it is becoming the preferred method of identity theft by scammers worldwide. I guess what it all boils down to is this: as a consumer, you have to make the decision(s) about what works for your household and what doesn’t. As someone stated previously, debit cards have helped some better track their spending (and it has been the antiChrist for some). Personally, cash eliminates all chances of fraud and is an excellent budget manager – once I’m out, I’m done as far as spending is concerned. Debit/Credit cards are only useful when travelling as I can’t rent a car or hotel room with cash (actually I probably could but I’d rather not rent-a-wreck or stay at Budget Inn). But the commercials (to me) are nothing more than Visa’s tugging at America’s financial heartstrings. Consumerism, materialism or whatever you want to call it is drowning the average American in unmanageable debt and Visa is there to help dig the grave. (All this coming from someone whose screenname is Fashionista! LOL! Oh, the irony.)

  100. fashionista says:

    @Sonnymooks: I think you’re referring to the Mobil SpeedPay. At their tanks, you hold a wand-like charm in front of the pegasus and once it lights up, you can fill up your vehicle. You had to link a credit card to the speed pay device. The idea, once again, being simplicity and speed.

  101. jjason82 says:

    As someone who’s worked in retail, not only are those commercials insulting, they’re not even true. When a customer pays cash it is a very quick transaction. Drawer opens right away, giving the customer their change takes about ten seconds and you’re good to move on. When a customer pays with a credit card, however, the whole process grinds to a halt as you wait for the card to be approved. It isn’t instant like they portray on TV. If you get a fast machine it might take as little as 20 seconds, (which is still not instant mind you) but if you get a slow one it can take as long as one or two minutes. That’s one or two minutes where the whole line has to do nothing but stand there as you wait and wait and wait for the card to be approved. Cash is instant, plastic is not.

  102. waafu says:

    In regards to the elephant commercial; the name on the card is Ella Phant,I believe. I do hate the idea that Visa is trying to make the use of cash as being anti-social.

  103. quadjimo says:

    The point of the commercial is that paying with cash slows down everything. I work in a very busy convenience store near a large university and I can tell you nothing could be further from the truth. Cash customers are at least 3X faster to get in and out of the store than credit card customers, especially when a majority of them are students getting a drink and a pack of gum and charging it!(Which we have to pay a processing fee on.) Everyone should carry at least a few dollars in cash.