For consumers buying fast food and beverages at quick-service restaurants, speed is of the essence. According to a new survey commissioned by Visa, 82 percent of respondents agree that QSR purchases made with debit or credit cards are more convenient than dealing with cash. And 68 percent say using payment cards is faster than paying with cash.

From fast-food purchases to public transit fares, payment cards are gaining ground as consumers’ currency of choice for more everyday payments less than $25 due to the efficiency, ease of use, and speed they provide. In fact, one in five survey respondents are using cards to pay for more than half of their purchases at quick-serves. Paying with plastic alleviates many of the potential hassles associated with cash. The majority of survey respondents agreed that:

* Payment cards allow them to track spending (84 percent).
* Funds are always accessible with cards, so it’s not necessary to plan ahead to get cash (82 percent).
* When using a payment card at a quick-serve, they can get exactly what they need because they’re not limited to the cash on hand (77 percent).

Electronic payment can help to streamline the purchase process for businesses and their customers. Visa’s No Signature Required program, which eliminates the signature requirement for qualifying transactions less than $25 across 17 merchant categories, can also help to expedite purchases. And, by paying with a credit or debit card, consumers can avoid some of the inconveniences associated with cash cited by survey respondents:

* Being stuck in a long line (62 percent).
* Digging in their wallet or pocket for cash and coins (48 percent).
* Dropping money on the ground (28 percent).
* Having to scale back their order because they were short on cash (15 percent).

Purchasing Preferences of Quick-Service Customers

While payment card purchases at quick-service are already on the rise, survey respondents expressed a willingness to use their cards more often and said they would make additional purchases with their cards if:

* They could get through lines faster (30 percent).
* They had the opportunity to earn rewards or free meals (28 percent).
* More locations accepted payment cards (27 percent).
* They could swipe their own card (27 percent).

The quick-service segment represents more than $160 billion in spending, with more than 80 percent of transactions conducted in cash. Increasingly, customers are reaching for debit or credit cards instead of cash when making these purchases. In the twelve months ending March 31, 2007, the number of Visa card transactions at quick service restaurants increased 31 percent. Debit card usage at quick service restaurants during the same period grew 32 percent over the previous year.