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Credit cards make fast food even faster in 2005

By Ben Woolsey

The quick-service restaurant food sector has never had it so good, with recent growth being fueled by credit card acceptance. Restaurants such as McDonald's and Wendy's have realized that America's addiction to fast food is only rivaled by its addiction to credit cards, so it is a marriage made in heaven.

With most fast food orders fulfilled in seconds, the major holdup in the process has traditionally been at the cash register. With plastic payment cards added to the equation, such as credit cards, debit cards and dedicated prepaid gift cards, the process is now starting to flow much faster.

Visa has recently reported that Americans spent an average of $430 million per week in 2005 using their credit cards, with an average ticket amount of $10.75. The historic fast food purchase total made on credit cards has risen from $1.7 billion in 2000 to $37 billion in 2005. And along with this tremendous increase in credit card usage at fast food restaurants has come a significant increase in efficiency and profitability for the major fast food giants.

For those with a rewards credit card that offers cash back or airline frequent flier miles, the opportunity to shift even more of their regular spending, previously made with cash, presents a  way to get something back for their effort. So, while waistlines might be expanding with this extra convenience, at least the potential rewards can make reward cardholders feel less guilty.

Published: February 15, 2006


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