The Dangers of Starting a Tab

The Dangers of Starting a Tab
Stefanie O'Connell
By: Stefanie O'Connell
Posted: March 21, 2014
Experts share their tips and advice daily on, helping subprime consumers navigate the world of personal finance.

Ever go to a bar and get asked if you’d like to start a tab?

While it’s certainly more convenient and efficient to pay once rather than closing out every time you order a drink, handing over your credit card for the evening also has its drawbacks.

The less tangible money becomes…

The easier it is to spend it thoughtlessly.

Credit cards are already a step removed from the monetary reality of cash. Hand yours over and you put even more distance between the fun of spending and the reality of cost.

Throw some drinks into the mix and you can easily rack up a huge bill without a second thought.

On a busy night with lots of open tabs, it’s understandable for something to be mistakenly charged to your card. The more common your last name, the more likely you are to be a victim of a mix-up.

“The longer the card is gone, the more

opportunities for someone to steal info.” 

Double-check all charges before signing anything.

If you have trouble keeping track of every drink ordered over the course of a night, it’s better to keep your card on you and pay for them individually.

If you try to pay for a single drink and the bartender tells you there’s a credit card minimum, either bring out the cash or, if you plan on having several drinks anyway, order your drinks all at once and close out before you even start to enjoy.

If drinks aren’t on a time-sensitive special, see if the bartender or waitress will hold off on serving you the second and third round until you’re ready.

Out of sight, out of mind.

When you hand over your card for happy hour at 8 p.m., it can be hard to remember to get it back four or five drinks later at midnight. Starting a tab can end with a loss far greater than a drink charge.

The longer your card is out of your hands, the more opportunities there are for it to get lost or for someone to steal the information. Keep your card safe and secure by keeping it on your person as much as possible.

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