While more Australians are reaching for their credit and debit cards to make payments, not all small businesses are keeping up with the trend.
Studies show that the use of credit and debit cards is growing exponentially. In FY15, for example, Australia’s card usage increased by 10.7% from the previous year. In FY16 it jumped by another 12.1%. 
But while the number of card transactions continues to rise, the average transaction value has fallen. This means customers are now using their cards even for small purchases, as advances in contactless technology make card payments quicker and more convenient than ever before.
So, as more people ditch cash in favour of cards, it’s a good idea for your business to give customers a range of payment options. It could save you money in the long run – because relying solely on cash payments could actually increase your operating costs.
3 hidden costs of cash
Some business owners believe that the fees attached to card payments will eat into their profits. But if you might think cash is a cheaper option for your business than cards, this may not actually be the case.
1. Your customers may be cash-free
In an increasingly cashless society, many people simply don’t carry cash around anymore. That’s because there’s a growing expectation among consumers that card payment options will be available wherever they go.
So if your business only allows cash payments, you could be losing potential customers to competitors who offer more flexibility.
2. Cash deposits = time and money
If you receive all your business earnings in cash, there’s the need to visit a branch to deposit the money. On the other hand, the money you earn from card payments automatically goes straight into your business bank account.
3. Payment restrictions and surcharges could be a turn off
Some businesses allow card payments but with certain restrictions, like a minimum spend or surcharge, to encourage their customers to pay by cash. In fact, this can actually place barriers between your business and your customers.
Recent research found that two in five customers actively avoid shops that have minimum spends for credit card payments.  So by removing this requirement, you could significantly boost your customer base.
Other potential turn-offs include the surcharges some stores add to card transactions, especially for higher-cost card types. Keep in mind that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) bans excessive payment surcharges, with a new standard set to come into effect for all merchants from 1 September 2017, enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Making the switch to cards
So how much does it cost to offer your customers flexible card payment options? It may be less than you think, especially if you take advantage of a long-term payment service as opposed to a fee-per-transaction offering.
When you’re running your own business, every cent matters – and that’s why we’ve created the Simple Merchant Plan specifically for small business owners. With the Simple Merchant Plan it includes monthly card transactions, so as long as you stay within the plan, you just pay a flat monthly fee. That means no hidden surprises, making it easier to manage your monthly cashflow. You’ll also get a Business Transaction Account and your first Albert device for free.
Albert is our market-leading EFTPOS tablet that’s designed to make customer payments even easier. It has all the EFTPOS functions you need to run your business, along with added features like split-bill payments* and same-day settlement**. Plus, Albert can take some of the hassle out of bookkeeping, as well as giving you access to valuable business insights to help you get ahead.
To find out how Albert can help your business accept card payments faster and easier, go to commbank.com.au/albert.
 Australian Payments Clearing Association, Australia’s Digital Economy, Nov 2016.
 The Behavioural Architects, Exploring barriers to merchants processing more of their sales through card and e-payments, February 2017.