Vending Machine Card Reader - Worth the Additional Cost?

Many modern vending machines (including all of the Seaga vending machines we offer here at AlliedVending) have the option of adding a credit card reader. This upgrade typically costs around $300.

The question, of course, is whether a vending machine card reader is worth the extra $300.

And if you choose not to add a credit card reader to your vending machine, how many sales are you potentially missing out on?

Let's start our analysis by looking at recent statistics on how many people regularly carry cash (meaning cash and/or coins).

How Many People Carry Cash?

According to an October 2020 study by Travis Credit Union, only 16% of people "always" carry cash, with an additional 27% of people claiming to carry cash "most of the time."

That's a combined total of only 43% who you can pretty well count on to have cash in their pocket.

Here's a pie chart showing the full results of their study:

Cash Survey Results

Right out of the gate, you'll see that you're missing out on 20% of potential sales to people who "never" carry cash.

Even a bigger issue, though, is the 37% of people who "sometimes" carry cash and the 27% of people who say they carry cash "most of the time."

Let's assume that the "sometimes" group carries cash half of the time and that the "most of the time" group carries cash 3/4ths of the time. If these rather conservative assumptions are correct, this would eliminate another 25% of potential customers from even having the option of buying something at your vending machine.

Making matters worse, you can't overlook the fact that even those customers who do have cash may not have coins, a $1 bill or a $5 bill, which are required by many vending machines. (They may only have a $10, $20 or $50 bill.)

When you add these people to the equation, it brings the total excluded customers to right up around 50%. That's no way to do business!

Covid-19 Impact

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on cash usage, just as it has on most every aspect of our lives.

In this same survey cited above, an even 50% of respondents said they are using cash less often than they did prior to Covid-19.

Perhaps more alarmingly, a whopping 58% of people surveyed said that they planned to stop using cash altogether after the pandemic subsided.

The takeaway here is that the use of cash is declining... and fast. We're quickly moving toward a "cashless" world.

But What Do Customers Prefer?

Of the 2,000+ people that Travis Credit Union surveyed, a combined 65% of respondents said that they prefer to make purchases with debit/credit card (59%) of using a digital wallet (6%).

Only 29% of respondents stated that they prefer to pay with cash.

And remember, having a debit and credit card reader on your vending machine doesn't preclude those who prefer to pay with cash from doing so. Adding a card reader just gives them another option.

The Bottom Line

Adding a debit/credit card reader to your vending machine just might be the biggest "no-brainer" of all no-brainers.

If you're going to spend $2,000 - $5,000 to get a vending machine, it just doesn't make any sense to exclude HALF of your potential customers to save a mere $300.

But what if you just can't afford the additional $300? Good news... we offer 24-36 month financing with zero down on all of our vending machines. This translates to just $8-13 more per month to get a vending machine credit card reader and tap into the remaining 50% of potential customers.

Convinced yet? Shop our selection of card-reader-enabled Seaga vending machines now!