Charge! Credit Cards Find New Foothold in Fast Food Hardee's in Caseyville Joins Plastic Bandwagon

Article excerpt

You've got to give Mike Malicoat credit for trying something new at the Hardee's fast-food restaurant he manages in Caseyville.

Well, you don't really have to. But Malicoat and his staff are accepting credit cards to pay for hamburgers, fries, shakes, soft drinks and other fare at the restaurant at Interstate 64 and Illinois Route 157.

Using credit cards to pay for fast food may be the wave of the future in America, where plastic is increasingly replacing cash in most wallets, Malicoat believes. Even so, he concedes that the idea has been slow to catch on.

"We've averaged six to 10 credit card sales a day" since the restaurant began accepting Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards in July, he said. That amounts to just small change for a bustling fast-food place that's open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

But Malicoat remains optimistic about the experiment, and he said he planned to keep accepting credit cards for the foreseeable future.

"I think it's had a very positive effect here, and many of our customers appreciate it," he said.

A few other fast-food places in the area have jumped on the bandwagon.

Burger King restaurants in St. Charles County have been taking credit cards for about a year, said David Gerst, a spokesman for Bank Mate, a regional network that coordinates use of credit cards and ATM cards with businesses.

Scott Carter, a vice president of MasterCard in New York, said acceptance of credit cards is more common at fast-food places in the West and Southwest. Many franchises there report satisfaction with the cards, Carter said.

He said MasterCard typically charges franchises 2 to 4 percent of the cost of a purchase when a card is used. Most franchises recover more than that amount in increased business because they accept the cards, Carter said.

Pat Bergauer, St. Louis regional director for the Missouri Restaurant Association, said she thinks some restaurants may be experimenting with credit cards "to see if it makes a difference in sales."

"I think their No. 1 concern is (if it would be) slowing down service," she said. …

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