There was a customer at our marina once who named his boat “Cash is King”.  He did that because he got a really good deal on the boat by offering CASH.

Now I am the first person who will tell you that money is not real.  But that does not seem to matter to the power of seeing a stack of Cash!  My son gets unbelievable deals on cars, (private sales) just because he shows a pile of CASH at that crucial moment when the seller has to make a decision.

I really don’t know of anyone who doesn’t take notice of a nice crisp new $50.00 bill.  So why do we give people Gift cards??  The next time you give a gift card, take note of the person’s face when they get the card.  Give some one the same amount in CASH, and notice the totally different expression.

It’s a Canadian thing I think. Somehow, CASH, is not as polite as a Gift card.  CASH is however much cheaper to give, and much more reliable.  I was with some good friends the other day and we had gone out for lunch.  When it came time to pay, my friend presented a $50.00 cash card.  (The one in the post picture)  When the server ran it through the machine it was declined.

My friend was very upset.  This was the second time they had tried to use the card, and it had been declined.  That is an embarrassing situation at the best of times.

My friend had bought the card as a thankyou gift.  When the person who received the card had tried to use it, also in a restaurant, it had been declined.  So much for the thank you.  My friend refunded the money and took the card back, thinking that maybe it had not been registered correctly.  So, they went back to the store where it was purchased, and had the card checked.  The card was valid and there should have been no problem.

But here it was, declined a second time.  Once we were out of the restaurant the anger set in.  How was this fair?  They had paid the $50.00 to be loaded on the card, and an EXTRA $5.75 as an activation fee.  They had paid $55.75 for a $50.00 card.  That is more than 10% extra.  What was worse, they were unable to use it!!!  AND it has cause them major embarrassment, twice.

We went back to the store where the card was purchased.  The customer service rep was excellent.  They listened to the problem, apologized for the trouble, then called the card company to find out what was going on.  There ensued a heated conversation.  The customer service rep at the card company was anything but nice.  They were down right rude.  The gist of the conversation was that if the card was used at a restaurant, you could not get the whole $50.00.  The card company withheld 20% because of the TIP.  At any other location, where a TIP was not normal, you could get the whole $50.00.  If you wanted to use the card in a restaurant you had to enter the sale as $40.00 ($50 less 20%) The card would use the whole $50.00, and a day or two later, the card company would put the withheld $10.00 back on the card.

Could there be anything more complicated??  None of us could figure out what a TIP had to do with anything.  If it is a $50.00 card, what difference does it make, to the card company, what you use the $50.00 for?  Food or TIP.

That is when my customer’s boat name came to mind.  “CASH is King”.  A gift card might be “polite” but it is expensive.  If my friend had of put $50.00 cash into the thank you card, there would have been no embarrassment, and my friend would have saved the $5.75 activation fee.  The person receiving the thank you would have had that little rush of getting CASH, and, I can pretty well guarantee, that the restaurant would have accepted the $50.00 bill with no problem.

Store gift cards may or may not charge an activation fee, but they also have the limitation of being usable only in that store.  So, buying a Cash card, you can use anywhere, seems like a good idea,  But is it really?  There is an activation fee, because the card issuer has to make money somehow, and it might come with some quirky conditions, like this one did.  I probably have half a dozen gift cards, all with less than $1.00 on them.  Taking in and using several leftover cards is often more trouble than it’s worth.   Something the card seller is counting on.

It is a great revenue generator.  Let’s say a retailer sells 100,000 cards across Canada.  And each person leaves 50 cents on the card.  That means the retailer just got $50,000.00 out of their customers for NOTHING. Talk about profit.

Buying a Gift/Cash Card is easy to do with a credit card.  It is also great when you don’t actually have the CASH available.  But maybe what you really should be considering is; if you have to put the CASH card on the Credit card, because you don’t have the actual Cash.  Should you be giving that money in the first place????

My mother always told me, that you should always act “POOR”.  Because then people don’t expect you to act “RICH”.  So, IS CASH KING????