OGDEN -- Cash is king for small businesses, but in the end, any payment will do because, after all, money is money. Haley Zenger is the owner of The Queen Bee, a book and game shop on Historic 25th Street in Ogden. About 80 percent of her business is in credit cards, and she takes checks written out for less than $50, but is glad when customers use cash.
"It's just easier to work with that kind of transaction," especially with her type of business, Zenger said.
Cash makes for quicker transactions, she said, plus it lowers the risk of fraud and there are no processing fees.
However, credit cards and debit cards are the preferred method of payment for most consumers, said Zions Bank Executive Vice President Rob Brough.
According to Federal Reserve Bank of Boston figures Brough cited, debit and credit cards are used 52 percent of the time, checks are written for 13 percent of transactions, cash accounts for 23 percent of all payments, and the rest is electronic payments.
And while fewer businesses still accept checks, the popularity of debit cards keeps growing.
"Our experience is that debit card usage is up even just this year over last year," Brough said. "At Zions Bank, it's up 7 percent."
But accepting credit and debit cards means additional fees for businesses -- and that means the cost is passed on to consumers.
Congress recently approved a bill to lower the debit card fee from an average of 44 cents per swipe to 12 cents per swipe. The law takes effect in July.
Some businesses recoup the fee by charging customers extra if the purchase is less than a certain amount, so a 50-cent pack of gum can cost $1 for the convenience of using a card.
Such fees are unpopular, said Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hardman.
"I think it's less popular, and I think most customers will stay away from those businesses that put a surcharge on that," he said.
Hector Ibanez, who works the checkout counter at Anaya's Market in Ogden, said customers accept the fee.
"They agree. They know, at a certain amount, if you are going to buy something for a dollar on a card, they will pay an additional 45 cents."
But the Mexican market is most likely to see cash.
Dennis Lorencz is the chief operating officer of the Viva! Market company, which opened its first store in Ogden before expanding across the valley. He has been in the Hispanic retail business for 15 years with decades more experience in conventional markets.
"In the Hispanic businesses, Hispanic customers pay much more with cash than they do with credit or checks," Lorencz said.
The majority of Viva! Market customers are first- and second-generation immigrants from Latin America, mostly Mexico. Because of their immigration status or simply because they are new to this country, many do not have established credit or checking accounts.
These customers tend to make smaller purchases as well, so credit and debit fees would cut into company profits.
"I prefer cash," Lorencz said. "It take less time at the register, there are no fees. Cash is not questionable."
Although cash is preferred, it is in the best interests of a business to take any payment. Lorencz said the market does not charge customers for using cards, but there are advantages to using plastic, especially debit cards.
With debit cards, money is instantly deposited into the account of the business. It is all electronic, so it is easier to track.
"You get what you pay for," Lorencz said.
However, plastic could soon disappear. Brough said banks have moved closer to using smartphones to make payments, inching closer to the fabled paperless society.
Zenger has already seen some of the technological advances.
"I can email or text the receipt, and people just love it," she said.
But for Zenger, paper money is still the best.
"For me, cash definitely is king."