Cards & Cash at the Co-op

Common Ground Owners;

Recently, I had the opportunity to do an analysis of Common Ground's credit/debit card processing fees. I had not looked at these numbers for years and found them fascinating, a bit painful, and thought you might also find them interesting.

For years the grocery industry resisted accepting credit cards, fearful of the costs. The banks lowered the rate for grocery stores and eventually the food industry joined the bandwagon. There is no going back as you will see in the following bullet point details.

  • Currently it looks like Common Ground's credit/debit card processing fees project out to more than $133,000.00 for 2017.
  • 86% of our sales are paid for with some kind of card.
  • The issuing banks receive between 85 to 93% of the processing fees.

You may have heard that debit card processing fees are less than credit cards, but that is only true for orders over $25.00 because of the higher transaction fee that debit cards have.


There is really only one way to lower these costs and that is simply by lowering the % of transactions that are payed for with a card. Using a card is very much a convenience issue for shoppers and in no way are we going to discourage customers from using them, other than to keep them informed. In the old days they claimed when people paid with cards the average order was larger, and that was the motivation to promote their use. I am not sure that is still true today.


We talked it over in our household and decided a good way for us to support the local economy was to pay cash when we purchase things from small local businesses. The big corporations get the card.


On another card note we would like to apologize for all the issues we are having with the new chip processing system. It is enough to drive an Interim General Manager back into retirement. Four different software providers have to work together to make it all work smoothly. That has not happened. If we had known the pain it was going to cause, we would have held off on converting to chips. However, we seem to have many of the bugs worked out, so we are not going to go back, at least for now. We appreciate your patience as we continue to work to make the system more customer friendly.


Thanks for being Common Ground owners!