Parks and Credit Cards

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar
I visited Kennywood last week and after waiting in a semi-long line at a food stand was blindsided to find out they did not accept credit cards. After checking the park map, I discovered that this was the case at all but the main sit down restaurant. Which leads me to the question:

Is it wrong to assume that "vacation" places such as amusement parks should be fully supportive of credit cards by now?

I know it was my own fault for not checking, but in my yearly trips to Holiday World, I know that they take plastic almost everywhere. Surely a bigger park in metro Pittsburgh should do the same? I know they take a hit on the usage charges, but they are a vacation spot. Don't they want people to spend lots of money? This seems almost as out of date as Cedar Fair's ticketing system (oh wait, they fixed that).

Local and state fairs are one thing, but if I paid $30+ to get in, when can I expect this service to be available?

*** Edited 8/28/2008 6:48:09 AM UTC by Pagoda Gift Shop***

Some places considar cards more of a hassel than cash. I know from a bit of expirence (the yearks working retail, one at an airport and two at a video store) that credit cards can take LONGER to process than someone just forking over the greenbacks.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

I hate carrying around cash.

I was going to start a similar topic like this today, but about credit cards being used for VENDING machines! Visited SFMM today and it was something I had never seen before...

It was 97 degrees out and I was still constantly drinking from the water fountains and getting free ice water, but the convenience of swiping my card it definitely felt like I wasn't being ripped off as much and it was no big deal.

I think i ended up buying 2 cokes and a powerade from the machines (@ 3.50 each). I would usually never even think about paying for a drink from a vending machine or at a stand but I have to say I got swallowed in by Six Flags and I think that's a really good tactic. -- TR to come.

Unfortunately the credit card companies charge an upfront fee + a % which is why "everyone" doesn't accept them. Even on those tiny purchases, a pretty hefty chunk (I don't know exact #'s) has to come out. A matter of the big guys bossing the little guys. Oftentimes small stores will put the minimum $10 purchase or whatever (which is illegal, or against the CC processor agreement, i forget) and can get it taken away.

I once went into a restaurant in Wildwood (the capital of "cash only" businesses) and there was a sign by the register that read: "Credit cards are a privilege, not a right. They are not welcome here."

That's all well and good. If a business owners decides not to accept credit cards as a form of payment, that's his or her right. However, if you're a business like an amusement park that engages in millions and millions of business transactions each year, I personally feel it's ridiculous not to accept credit cards in this day and age. It's pretty much a middle finger to people wanting to spend their money at your park and not having any other immediate options. A credit card is so much easier to carry around than a pocket full of crumpled bills and heavy change.

*** Edited 8/28/2008 1:07:40 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***

mfivsdarienlake said:

I was going to start a similar topic like this today, but about credit cards being used for VENDING machines! Visited SFMM today and it was something I had never seen before...

We came across those waiting for a bus at our Disney Resort. I was thirsty and noticed that it had a CC slot. Well, whipped out the ROOM KEY(!!!) and was able to get a drink from the machine. I was rather amazed, and wish more places (my work particularly) would have these machines.

Wouldn't all parks want this kind of system? It makes it so easy to spend money.

Hopman said:
Some places considar cards more of a hassel than cash. I know from a bit of expirence (the yearks working retail, one at an airport and two at a video store) that credit cards can take LONGER to process than someone just forking over the greenbacks.

I don't see how. If there is a credit card reader for the customer to use, I can swipe my card and complete a transaction faster than someone can sort through their wallet for bills then wait for the cashier to make change. Have you never been stuck behind a lady sorting through her suitcase-sized purse trying to find the correct change? And don't even get me started on people who still write checks at the cash register.

Dealing with cash involves having to manually balance the register, then having to keep and count all the cash at some sort of cash control central office, then hire a security company to transport the cash to the bank. With credit cards all this is done electronically with much less chance for error. I don't understand why we haven't yet moved to a cashless society.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeffery Seifert:
I don't understand why we haven't yet moved to a cashless society.

I think that's clearly the path were headed on and that's exactly why the sheer number of amusement park related establishments that don't accept plastic of some kind is frustrating.

a_hoffman50's avatar
I can hear myself in the future, "Back when I was your age, we had to use PAPER money and coins made of metal!"
coasterqueenTRN's avatar
^LOL! That is SO true!

I usually don't use credit cards unless there is an emergency (I learned my lesson!) and only use my Visa check/debit card for most purchases at parks, motels, etc. I hate carrying more than $20 cash but when it comes to things like food and arcade games I make sure I have enough on me. :)

But that's just me. ;)


*** Edited 8/28/2008 5:00:12 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

Funny I just read this article yesterday.

I'll have my cards on me for larger purchases, but I just hate the idea of charging for every little snack. (Don't some money people have a saying not to charge any item that you'll no longer have when your statement arrives?)

A check card I'd be more OK with, as long as keeping records isn't too much of a hassle, and you keep track of your purchases. I think a lot of people who whip out their cards all day long every day have no idea how much they're actually spending.

Cash may be old-fashioned, but at least I know how much I have to spend going in, and it's a bit easier to stay disciplined when you know exactly how much you have left.

I use my credit card for almost every purchase unless it is something very cheap. I just cashed out my rewards for 4, 2 day, 2 park tickets to Universal/IOA so all those little $3 and $5 purchases add up.

At Dorney a lot of food places didn't accept cards but they do now. I really don't like the idea of carrying a lot of cash around in a park so I try to use my card whenever possible in the park.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I couldn't tell you the last time I used cash.

Hell, my kids don't even have to use cash for school lunches anymore. The school issues a pin number for them to use in the cafeteria and I fund their accounts online. (with a credit or debit card)

Than again, I'm of the mindset that manageable debt is not a bad thing. Debt becomes bad when it gets out of control.

Carrie M.'s avatar
Yeah, the only thing that concerns me about the paperless consumer exchange is being able to teach kids about the value of money when they can't see it or touch it.

How do some of you deal with that?

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I tell them to make sure they make lots of money so they can have whatever they want. ;)

Seriously, I don't get the idea that there's disconnect when not physically handling money. The article RGB linked to mentions the same thing and I don't think I necessarily buy it.

All the paper money does is give a visual representation of the numbers. With an electronic economy you have to respect the numbers on their own. It's basic math. When you have zero dollars, you can't buy anything.

In fact, I prefer that method as numbers are numbers. My youngest is still convinced that a couple of dollar bills is better to have than a twenty or a fifty or whatever. He simply sees more bills and thinks he has more money. But, oddly enough, in the same breath he understands that 20 > 4. He also understands that 4 > 1 and that's why he'd rather have four one-dollar bills than one twenty-dollar bill.

I guess my point is that having to actaully think isn't a bad thing. The visual indicator that paper money offers can be as misleading or deceptive and any.

Jeff's avatar
That's a good question, and I'm not sure. Check cards started to mainstream while I was in college, which was the first time I probably made more than a couple grand in a year. My bank didn't do check cards until my senior year, so I had a few years of cash and checks (and regular credit cards).

I think you teach responsibility by having the kid balance a checkbook (or checking software) by entering each transaction. I still use Money 97, believe it or not, and reconcile what my receipts say with what the statement says. That's my reality check. Plus I can categorize everything and see what I'm spending money on. It doesn't really deter me from buying crap, but at least I can feel bad about buying it.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I'd rather have less cash in my wallet. For me, there's less of a temptation to spend it.
I'm not terribly surprised that a traditional park like Kennywood would do this. Yeah I use my CC for a lot fo things, but when it comes to amusement parks and food, I usually go with cash unless it is a larger meal. I hate trying to balance anything less than $10 transactions on my finance program every month.

And the other thing to think about. Think about the infrastructure needed for that much CC handling, and what happens if CC transactions go down. I happened to be at a large home improvement store a few weeks ago, and the entire chain's CC system was down for 2 hours. I ended up walking right away because I didn't have cash on hand with me to buy the items, and I went down the street to a competitor to buy the same things. Think if this were to happen in an amusement park where one is effectively a captive audience.

Now, that being said, have you tried to cash a travelers check recently? You get looked at like its a $3.00 bill.

ApolloAndy's avatar
I'm the same as Jeff. Our family has an Excel Spreadsheet (groan!) that has all our purchases, income, and rainy day funds (money we put away for big coaster trips, medical emergencies, kids' college funds, etc.)

I know, more or less, where every penny coming into and out of our house goes. I know that's a little anal for most, but I never worry about plastic vs. cash because either way I know exactly how it's going to impact the bottom line at the end of the month.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Mamoosh's avatar
Some waterparks offer a wristband with a barcode that is associated with the wearer's credit card. They can use this to purchase items whilst in the waterpark without having to carry cash. Parents can even "preload" a wristband with a specific amount of money or set a spending limit, allowing kids to make purchases if mom and dad aren't around.

I think that would make a great park-wide system. Imagine not having to worry about your wallet when riding a flume, rapids ride, or having it fall out on a coaster or flat ride!

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