As I approached the taxi stand at (Uber less) Frankfurt International Airport, I quickly enquired “do you take credit card?”. After barely audible grumbles, the staunch taxi driver replied “you have no cash? Yes, yes, we take credit card”, followed by a perfectly audible sigh. I get it- drivers prefer cold hard cash, but it’s the 21st century surely…
“How long are you in town?”
I could’ve taken the very efficient “S Bahn” train from the airport into the city, but I had a specific destination in mind and after just coming off a long haul flight I wished to unwind on the journey in. 20 minutes later we had reached our destination- a hip coffee shop for a quick recovery beverage.
“That’ll be 30 Euros”
As I passed my driver my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, I began wondering if I was hallucinating from the jet lag. The driver pulled out a credit card machine, which I believe I last saw appear in the film “Pretty Woman”. Yes, we’re talking about an entirely non electronic, zero connectivity credit card machine which simply takes an imprint of the credit card. With rampant fraud- ripe for abuse, I thought these had gone the way of Windows 95.
“Your card doesn’t work”
Uh, yes, it does. Here’s the kicker- the design of the utterly sharp looking Chase Sapphire Preferred card does not have the traditional 16 numbers raised against the front. It instead is a sleek-name only front, with numbers in an unusual place on the reverse side. The driver then attempted to persuade me to see if the coffee shop would be happy for me to charge an extra €30 and give him cash. That sounded ridiculous, so I protested that surely- we could call the taxi center and they could process the payment electronically.
Yes, travelers should whenever possible carry at least some cash – in case a situation arises, where you enter the twilight zone, and technology has reverted to the 1980’s. But I didn’t have any, I was only going to be in Germany for the day and forgot my debit card- figuring 3 credit cards would be able to cover any needs. Beginning to think this was going to become a painful situation- it all changed when the driver continued just a minute down the road to the taxi stand. A partner taxi had a modern machine, processing the payment promptly. All resolved.
“You Take Credit Cards?”
Shockingly, on the way back, the driver attempted the same “you sure you don’t have cash” grumbling, showing that his machine did not work, before reaching into his glove compartment to reveal a brand new digital machine, like those found in European restaurants, when I said there were no other options. Was it all a game?! Of course, I accept some blame for not having cash- but as a frequent international traveler I’ve always been confident that if credit card is accepted (something I ask before going anywhere) that I can take part without issue. This was certainly amusing, thanks to the lucky result.