Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thanksgiving: A Day Without Credit Cards? (

By Martin H. Bosworth - ConsumerAffairs.Com

November 2, 2005 Thanksgiving Day inspires a lot of traditional activities -- tryptophan-induced food comas, screaming at the television when your favorite football team is losing, and taking advantage of stores' big sales. Now Mitch Goldstone may be turning an old shopping tradition on its head by making Thanksgiving Day a "day without credit cards."

Goldstone has been advocating a call for consumers to put away the debit and credit cards and shop only with cash on Friday, Nov. 25th.

A press release put out by Goldstone's Credit Card Interchange Report advocates the "Day Without Credit Cards…A Day With Cash" plan as a way to protest the fees tacked on by banks to any credit card purchase.

Goldstone, owner of Irvine, Calif.-based 30 Minute Photos Etc., and an outspoken opponent of hidden credit card charges, got the idea from several of his customers.

"Growing numbers of our retail customers began paying with cash and writing checks because most were familiar with our role in the antitrust case. They even understand the gimmicks and actual value of reward and affinity cards games. Several people asked if we could expand their individual protests onto a larger forum," said Goldstone in the press release.

One customer, Dana Sussen, started buying items from Goldstone in cash to support his lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard, and several major banks challenging the high interchange fees he has to pay in credit transactions.

Sussen viewed her stance as "giving back to the community and supporting independent businesses."

"[Goldstone] gives all his services to the community at a good price," she said. "I try to do my shopping with local stores whenever possible, and I pay cash to help keep the costs of doing business down."

The "Day Without Credit Cards" plan has already received attention from a number of media outlets, including Forbes magazine. Writer Liz Moyer mentioned the plan in an article discussing credit card companies' all-out efforts to entice buyers to use plastic during the holiday season.

"Black Friday" -- the day after Thanksgiving -- accounted for 11 percent of all credit card transactions in 2004, according to the site. That is expected to rise this year, as more consumers turn to credit cards for both necessity and luxury buying needs.

study sponsored by the American Bankers Association (ABA) found that shoppers use cash or checks on only 45 percent of monthly transactions, down from 49 percent in 2003 and 51 percent in 2001.

Even with the billions banks and credit card companies are raking in through fees and hidden charges, the industry is suffering its share of troubles. In addition to the merchant lawsuits, rashes of online-based credit card fraud and data loss have scared many cardholders away from using plastic.

Of course, for many, giving up credit cards isn't all that easy. Polls show that more and more consumers are forced to use their cards just for
everyday living expenses, finding themselves "trapped" by high interest rates and hidden fees.