Bar 101, Lesson 1: Using Credit/Debit Cards Properly.

Featured, Pubs and Grub — September 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm by

Tonight, we are re-releasing our Bar 101 mini-series.  This three-part blog  is designed to help you, the bar patron, establish yourself as someone who knows what the hell to do, and how the hell to act, when going out to a bar.  We here at Charm City Wire are bar and restaurant veterans, both as bartenders and customers.  Trust us, these pointers will teach you the nuances of being a good bar customer, which is a good thing, especially because some of y’all really need the lesson.

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Bars are wonderful places with booze, loud music, good food, and good looking women who may, or may not, talk to you for more than 10 seconds.  If you are to enter these places, you need to understand that there are certain understood “rules” that exist between bar patrons and bar employees.  These “rules” are not posted anywhere, nor are they directly given to you in any other form.  These “rules,” and their nuances, are a sacred knowledge that is either God-given, or learned over an extended period of time.  Some people are lucky enough to just get it right off the bat.  This could be because they are just cooler than you, and everybody else, or it could be because they grew up in and around bars and/or restaurants.  A lot of people with older siblings are informed of the “rules” before they start going out, so they too have an advantage.  Other folks start working in the bar business at a young age, and are taught the “rules” by the people who help make them.  These folks, no matter how they learned the “rules,” are the ones who get served first, the ones whose favorite drinks get remembered, and the ones who are loved.

But then there are the masses, the many who wander into bars all wrong.  These folks are the unforgiven; the douches and hoes that populate the night like drunken mosquitos, annoying the living shit out of everyone.  This blog is designed to help you avoid being one of the douchey masses.

This blog will teach you the unspoken rules.  Some of you already know the rules, but you may find the blog amusing anyway.  Some of you will read the rules, and upon being enlightened, will change your behavior accordingly.  Yet others will read the blog and still refuse to abide by the rules.  If you are one of these people, you are  probably a self-absorbed jackass, who will eventually die alone and unloved.  And yet still others will read the rules and choose which rules to follow.  These people may agree with some of the rules, but find, or think, themselves exempt from some of the others.  So be it.  If I can only help folks in one small way, I have still helped, and my efforts have been worth while.   Welcome to Bar 101.

Lesson 1: Credit Cards/Debit Cards

Pick a card any card...

No one carries cash anymore.  The invention of the debit card has created a world where even criminals must force their victims to go to the ATM in order to rob them.  It is no longer a society of cash transactions, but a society of online money transfers, where a piece of plastic is currency.  This plastic currency is accepted everywhere, including most bars.  And that’s all well and good, as long as you know to properly use it.  Credit cards/debit cards are perfectly acceptable forms of payment , but they are not meant to be used exactly as cash.  If you only have a credit/debit card and are using it to pay, start a tab with it.  Do not stand at the bar and wave your credit card in the air like it is a crisp 20.  Simply order your drinks, hand your card to the bartender, and say, “I would like to start a tab.”  Do not say, “Just close it now,” especially if the bar is busy.  Credit card transactions take longer, and it is god-damn ridiculous to expect someone to run your credit card for $3.75 every time you decide to order a Miller Lite.  If you want to pay as you go, get your ass to an ATM before you go out and withdraw some cash.  Not only does paying with a credit card for every small transaction hold others up from ordering quickly, it makes you look ridiculous.  You are basically telling the world that you are too fucking stupid to remember to pay your tab at the end of the night, or that you are too fucking lazy to go to the ATM.  Thereby, you will continuously pay with a credit card and hold everybody up.  I can almost guarantee you that if you are at a busy bar with your little Citibank Platinum card, you will be served after the guy with the cash.  Especially if you have pulled the ol’ order and swipe trick previously.  So, if you plan on paying as you order, it is better for everyone if you bring cash with you. Credit/ debit cards are perfectly acceptable forms of payment if you are starting a tab.  In fact, starting a tab with a credit/debit card is is probably the most convenient way to do business when out drinking.  It allows you to order your drinks and get back to your friends quickly throughout the evening.  There is no currency transaction (cash or plastic) occurring, so this makes for faster serve times for you and the person who is ordering after you.  At the end of your night simply pay (either by card or cash), tip, and leave.  Everyone wins in this scenario.

An argument for carrying cards instead of cash is that it is safer to carry plastic.  This is horseshit.  I have never heard of anyone who was asked if they were carrying cash or plastic right before they got mugged.  If the thugs want your wallet, they  mug first.  No street tough ever walked up to anyone and said, “I was going to beat the shit out of your drunk ass for your wallet, but if you are carrying plastic, kindly tell me and I will take my weapons and bad intentions elsewhere.”


The other argument for plastic is that people claim they spend less when carrying their card.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Credit cards are like poker chips, the plastic gives the illusion of not being “real money”.  Credit card paid tabs are always the biggest tabs.  If you want to budget what you’re spending, bring a set amount of cash.  (And then hit the ATM at 11:30 when your banged-up self runs out of it.)


Folks, the issue is not using the cards per se, but how the cards are used.  In fact, many bars are putting a minimum charge policy in effect to avoid credit card company fees for every small transaction.  So play the game the right way and just stay away from running your card every time you go to the bar, it makes life better for everyone.


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One Comment

  1. The reason cards are considered safer isn’t because you’re less likely to be robbed. It’s because if you are robbed, it’s very easy to call the credit card companies and cancel your cards before the thieves take any of your money, whereas if they take your wallet with $200 cash in it, you’re out $200.

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