The quick-service industry, which includes restaurants that sell hamburgers, chicken, sandwiches, pizza, doughnuts, ice cream, yogurt, tacos and other prepared food items, reported sales of $113.5 billion in 2001, according to Morgan Keegan & Co, an investment firm in Memphis, Tenn. But only 2.8 percent to 3 percent of quick-service businesses report any card-based transactions, according to a Visa study released last month. That compares with 35 percent to 40 percent card use by consumers in other industries.
Credit-card issuers and transaction service operators are pushing fast-food chains to accept plastic because doing so is expected to boost sales to higher levels. Fast-food chains also would have less cash to manage and keep on site, thereby reducing the chance for error and theft, experts said. The Visa study found that consumers spend 30 percent to 50 percent more when they use credit cards rather than cash.