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What’s behind the saying: “I have cash right now”?


Cash is king, right?

No. Actually, plastic is stronger than paper.


The person who implies their cash is stronger than plastic needs to understand retail math. Card-based (plastic) purchases are typically a 30% larger ticket size than straight cash buys. This is called ticket lift. People like using their debit cards … a lot. Debit & credit cards produce larger purchases than cash does, across the board.


So before you tell a retailer, “Hey, I’ve got cash!” Consider the retailer is hearing you say, “I plan to spend 30% less than your average card-carrying customer today! Isn't that exciting news for you?”


Another implication of saying, “I have cash” is “I would like a discount because I have superior buying power with cash in hand.” But that is not true. Card purchases are larger tickets. (And financed deals are usually double and triple the size of a card purchase.) Flashing cash is not good leverage to position yourself for a discount. You are actually admitting you have less to work with.


Let’s avoid taxes.


Not always, but sometimes when a customer says, “But I’ve got cash” the intention is bypassing sales tax. What the buyer is saying could be, “We should agree together to withhold from the government their silly sales tax. I pay cash so you don’t have to report this sale. Are you okay with that?” The buyer is sort-of inviting the retailer to participate in fraud. The Indiana Department of Revenue is pretty serious about collecting their sales tax. It belongs to them. Smart retailers who intend to stay in business long term are not deceitful with the government. No one can quite complicate your life (and put you out of business) faster than the government, especially if they believe you are withholding taxes from them.


It's all in the attitude.


No one is better or less than another person because they have a payment method preference. Some people do not like debit cards for a variety of reasons; including card fraud, identity theft, overspending, or any number of reasons. That is fine. Cash is just as welcome as any other payment method. However, the attitude that says, "I've got big bucks so you better treat me better than you treat other people" is unacceptable. My purchasing power does not make me better or less than anyone else. 



Think ahead.


Here are some expected responses you may hear from honest retailers when they hear the saying, “I can pay cash now.” 

  • “That’s great. We pay our taxes.”
  • “Thank you. We appreciate that. The price is still the same for everyone.”
  • “If you can pay with a card or finance the purchase, that would be better, actually.”


Ask differently.


Ask for a discount in the preferred language of the retailer.


Retailers do give discounts, but you have to speak the right words. Sometimes a retailer can be persuaded to provide a discount if they just had (or are soon planning) a clearance event.

“This will be part of the clearance, right?” 

See, now the retailer has something to think about. Or try,

“This item has been here a while. I can help you make space for new things coming in!”

See, that is real concern some retailers have: turning over old inventory to get a fresh look on their show floor. Your proposition has to make sense to both parties.


Point out a defect that might have been overlooked when the price was established. “Did you see how this drawer sticks?” See, now the retailer has to think, “Maybe THAT’S why this piece has been here awhile.” Address the retailer from their point of concern.



Look for signs.


When a retailer has clear policies posted about prices, just honor their written rule. If there are no pricing policies posted, go ahead and ask for that special deal.