Although we live in a cashless world, there are plenty of vending machines that still rely mainly on or even solely on cash.
For that reason, you might stumble across the label “cash only” on a wide range of vending machines. If you’re wondering why a vending machine says “cash only”, you’ve come to the right place.
In many cases, Vending Machine “cash only” is set on purpose by vending machine owners due to high banking fees to support card payments. It can also happen due to persistent card processing issues, such as processing bugs, reading issues, connection timeout, etc.
In today’s article, we’ll provide you with a brief guide that walks you through the reasons for it and how to fix it if you’re a vendor. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
- 4 Reasons Why Vending Machine Says Cash Only
- How to Fix the Problem As a Vending Machine Owner
- Final Thoughts
4 Reasons Why Vending Machine Says Cash Only
First, let’s have a look at some of the most common reasons why a vending machine would request cash payments only.
This includes machines that already have the capacity to accept other forms of payment but would still display “cash only” whether on its menu screen or as a labeled sign.
1. The Card Reader Device Is Encountering an Issue
Starting off with one of the main reasons why a vending machine would request cash payments only, which is due to the card reader machine. Vending machines usually use bank reader devices similar to the ones found in regular shops, such as Nayax and ePort.
In some cases, these machines might encounter some issues during one or more processes of the transaction, such as reading the card.
This happens if the magnetic stripe of the card is incompatible with the card reader or has some dust or dirt that tampers with the reader. In that case, wiping the magnetic stripe and magnetic stripe reader off should do the trick!
In other cases, the issue is during the various micro-processes within the transaction. To put it simply, card readers have small computers in them that may encounter bugs or errors through the security check.
Some card readers are designed to display a “cash only” message if the encoding problem persists, which happens if you type in pin codes incorrectly (if the key reader needs it)
Lastly, though rare, some card readers won’t complete the transaction if the machine won’t print a receipt. In that case, even if the card reader is okay, the reader will display the error code for printer issues or request payments in cash.
2. The Card Reader Can’t Establish a Connection with the Banking Partner
In some cases, the card reader might be working perfectly without any errors that would interfere with the transaction process.
However, the connection or signal between the vending machine and the banking partner is weak or broken.
This will also prevent the machine from completing the transaction and will often display messages like “cash only”, “connection timeout, cash only” “unable to establish a successful connection, cash only”.
3. The Machine is Too Old to Run Advanced Payment Options
Most banks nowadays are transitioning from magnetic stripes to chips on cards because they’re far superior when it comes to efficiency and security.
Since vending machines are optimized to display “cash only” after unsuccessful attempts to use the card, you might encounter this message if the machine’s reader is too old to read modern bank cards or doesn’t have the capacity to read cards altogether.
Similarly, if you’re trying to pay through phone apps or other advanced methods, the cashless system in the machine might be too old to accept them.
4. The Card Reader Option Is Turned Off By the Vending Machine Owner
Last but not least, there are many cases where vending machine owners purposely adjust the machine to display “cash only” even if the machine is capable of receiving cash.
This happens because accepting bank cards, whether they’re debit or credit, requires the vending machine owner to pay extra fees to the bank.
So, unless the vending machine is placed in a very busy and popular area, these extra fees and taxes can severely hurt the vendor’s profits or even count as a loss.
How to Fix the Problem As a Vending Machine Owner
Whether you’ve recently purchased a vending machine that displays a “cash only” message or your machine started showing the message recently, here’s what you can do to fix the problem:
1. Reset the Card Reader and the Vending Machine
Since card readers go through several small processes during a transaction, a small authenticating bug can interrupt the whole thing for safety reasons.
Luckily, a simple fix to that problem is resetting the card reader machine. Of course, each machine has its own way of resetting, which can be found in the user manual.
However, in most cases, turning both the vending machine and the card reader off then on again should do the trick.
2. Install a New One
In some cases, the card reader may malfunction beyond repair. In that case, you might want to contact the provider company to request a replacement card reader.
The only way to make sure that your vending machine needs a new card reader is by having a specialist check it out, depending on the model you have.
3. Contact Your Banking Partner
If the machine has been working fine recently or displays a “connection timeout, please use cash only” type of message, there might be a connection problem between the machine and the bank.
To solve that, contact the bank and make sure that you’ve paid all the monthly and banking fees required to keep the service up and running.
4. Consider Upgrading to a Cashless Machine
Lastly, if your vending machine is using a relatively old card reader that keeps malfunctioning, you might want to consider upgrading to a new cashless machine that accepts a wider range of modern cards and other payment methods, such as payment apps and mobile wallets.
There you have it! A brief guide with everything you need to know about vending machines that read “cash only” during checkouts.
As you can see, there are various reasons for this to happen. The most common one is that other payment options are disabled by vendors or encountering an issue that requires resetting the card reader or contacting the bank in order to solve the problem.