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New payment option - installments

Not sure if this qualifies as a "Money-Saving Strategy" or more of a "Tourist Scam" but we just encountered this on a trip in Colombia. I have not seen it in Europe yet, but if it hasn't spread there yet, it probably will.

You go have dinner. You ask for the check. Waiter brings the payment machine for credit cards. They present the bill, you hand over (or wave) your card. They ask a series of questions...

  1. Credit or debit?
  2. Payment in local currency or you home country's currency? (aka DCC, Dynamic Currency Conversion)
  3. The "cuota"...wait, the WHAT? La cuota, señor...

Turns out this is an option to divide the payment and make installment payments over time. With interest.

No doubt, most of us are familiar with the concept of installment payments, either old-school ones (maybe for an expensive Christmas gift) or the current/recent multiple-payment options offered for online purchases (which go by many names). But this - paying for your dinner in installments - was new to me. And we saw it at every sit-down restaurant that accepted credit cards.

The correct answer for me is "La cuota?" Uno! (one!). YMMV, but I figure if you can't afford to pay for your dinner and need to make multiple payments, you probably should find a less expensive meal. I encountered this (cuota) on meals that were not expensive at all (at least to me). I can't imagine making installment payments, and paying interest, on a simple, casual meal. But I'm old fashioned.

I'm wondering if anyone here has seen this creep into Europe yet?

Posted by
2645 posts

never seen it in restaurants but certainly it is very common when buying on line and in stores these days here in the UK, Klarna seems to be one of the bigger companies that facilitates this in the UK, never felt the need to use it.

Posted by
330 posts

Well, it’s definitely not a money saving strategy. . Obviously what this is going to do is make your dinner cost a lot more than it did originally.😂

And I guess it’s not a scam. I kind of feel like it’s almost a test of your intelligence. If you think financing dinner over the next few months is a good idea that’s concerning imho.

Posted by
7514 posts

I wouldn’t have thought of paying for a meal on an easy payment plan. What’s the incentive for the restaurant, do they get a cut on the interest, or are they just attracting more customers by processing the cuota “service?”

With a credit card, you already have an option to pay your statement’s balance in full, or make a partial payment and incur interest. With a cuota designation, would you pay interest for that, on top of the interest your card’s already going to charge?

Maybe the more courses consumed, the more cuotas. But as you said, David, if you have to purchase your meal on time, perhaps it’s beyond your means. Does a cuota allow you to finance the tip, too?

Posted by
27279 posts

This is news to me, and since June 2022 I've spent considerable time in England, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey. I'm very glad to know about this so I am prepared to avoid it when it (inevitably) surfaces along my path.

Posted by
7514 posts

I don’t suppose that Michelin restaurants wound start promoting this as a way to make dining there more affordable? The more Stars, the more payments.

Posted by
6788 posts

I am guessing that it's the payment processor (the bank/company that processes credit/debit card payments) who has added this "feature." I'm sure it's the same with DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion), an equally scammy scheme to squeeze a bit more money out of confused/inattentive consumers. I've run into DCC at tiny little mom-and-pop eateries all across Europe (and at ATMs and gas stations and 7/11s and everyplace else where plastic is accepted), and I'm pretty sure mom and pop didn't specifically ask for it to be rolled out in their falafel shop. On a recent trip to Colombia, the "cuota" (installment payment) option was present at every restaurant where we used a credit card to pay, including some very small, casual, inexpensive ones. It's hard for me to believe that the owners of these little eateries specifically asked for this "feature", I'm guessing that, whether you want it or not, it just comes along with the ability to accept credit/debit cards. If that's indeed the case, I'd expect to see it expand worldwide in the coming months and years (just like DCC is now everywhere). So, heads up.

Posted by
11298 posts

Having no literacy in Spanish, I did a search for " La cuota"; what I found is that many of the sites I found had 'fee' as one of the translations/usages.

I wonder if it's being used in place of 'the tip', since it was at a restaurant?

Posted by
6788 posts

Nope, definitely not the tip. Tip is "propina" and is a word that's widely used and understood; the tip was always called out separately and appeared clearly (as 15% for "propina/tip/servicios") on the bill when it's presented.

First time I was asked about "la cuota", my waiter (who spoke little English) managed to explain that you could pay for part of the bill now, and pay for the rest later - but with interest (even he rolled his eyes and shook his head at the idea). My Spanish is pretty good (not perfect, but quite functional), I understood his meaning and responded that I only wanted to pay for it all in one payment right now, with no additional payments and no interest...and shared my opinion that making installment payments for a meal was "muy loco" (his response was "si, por supesto, esta locisimo!" - "yes, of course, it's completely crazy!"). 😎

Posted by
11298 posts

David--- Thank you for the education

Perhaps useful at Canlis, but not Dick's.

( and now everyone from not here are busily searching 'Canlis' and "Dick's")

Posted by
14580 posts

Under those specific circumstances listed above, I pay with the credit card using the "tap " function in the local currency, or, if not, to make it simple, I bring out my cash, ie Euro. No need to use the credit card when I can do it with cash.