Say what you want about the mobile credit card revolution, but this year it made every consumer’s life a whole lot easier. Even the Girl Scouts have started accepting credit cards now, which means that carrying around a pregnant wallet and a pocketful of change every day is about to be a thing of the past.
Here are the four new places to use your credit card that we’re most excited about.
1. Girl Scout Cookies
Next time the Girl Scouts come calling, you don’t need to worry about scouring your house for cash to pick up a box of Samoas. This year, the organization announced that 32 troops across 23 states will be peddling their confections armed with phone-mounted credit card processors. While this is great news for the Girl Scouts, it’s terrible news for our waistlines. After all, the only reason we cap our order at five boxes of Thin Mints is because we can usually only find about $20 hiding out in the couch cushions. Oh well.
2. Cab Rides
Blew all your cash paying for cover and drinks at the bar? That’s not a problem anymore. Cities across the country are now making credit card processors mandatory in their taxicab fleets. Although the cabbies aren’t happy about being forced to cough up interchange fees to card companies – some drivers have even walked off the job when asked to run a card – many experts believe the decision to accept plastic was necessary to keep city-run services off of life support. In any case, the barflies are certainly happy about it.
3. Charitable Donations
Businesses aren’t the only ones who are starting to realize that accepting credit cards is a good idea. This past Christmas, Americans were pleased to discover that they could swipe their credit card when they couldn’t find any change to put in the Salvation Army’s red kettles. Last November, Square and Sprint teamed up to donate card-reading smart phones to bell ringers in major cities like New York, Chicago and Dallas. The result? The Salvation Army reported a 4% increase in overall donations compared to the 2010 holiday season.
4. Hourly Street Parking
Coin-fed parking meters are perhaps the most frustrating machines in the world. These archaic pieces of junk aren’t just habitually inaccurate – they force you to drop what you’re doing every few hours and rush back to feed them another handful of quarters. That’s why we literally jumped with joy when we found out that cities around the country have finally begun accepting mobile payments for parking. Now you can just keep track of your meter on your phone and reload it using your mobile wallet when it’s running low.
The way we pay for our purchases is changing, and we think it’s changing for the better. Though the benefits of a credit card economy come at a cost – the interchange fees that merchants pay will eventually be subsidized by consumers – we think it’s a fair price to pay for making our daily routine much less frustrating and much more secure. With payments handled by phones, you don’t need to worry about losing your wallet or scrounging around in your car for loose change to feed the meter. Really, the worst thing about the mobile revolution is that telling charities you don’t have any cash on you is no longer a valid excuse. And that’s something we’re willing to live with, don’t you agree?