Credit card and contactless payments: the future of carwash

Credit card and contactless payments: the future of carwash

How adding credit card and contactless payments will make your carwash more efficient, more profitable and provide better service to your clients.

No matter the type of business you are involved in, the growth of the carwash industry over the past few decades has been enviable. According to an article published on Sept. 30, 2021, by, from 2012 to 2021, revenue in the carwash industry increased from $7.04 billion dollars to $9.44 billion dollars per year.1 That is a 26% increase over nine years.

This upward trend is set to continue and carwashes that want to capitalize on this consistent, long-term growth need to embrace the payment revolution that has come with the ubiquitous adoption of credit cards and contactless payments. By adding the ability to use a credit card or other contactless payment options for their services, carwashes will increase their efficiency, become more profitable and provide better service to their clients.

Consumer habits are changing

According to a study done in October 2018 by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, consumers used cash in only 26% of their purchases.2 While it is true the percentage of a population that used cash fluctuated based on their age, the overall use of cash has been declining for years.

Consumers don’t like having to carry cash or change. This is obvious when seeing the data. Using a coin-based system (or even a pre-paid code-based system) for carwashes runs contrary to what consumers are looking for. That is why adopting contactless and credit card payments in carwashes is the key to keeping your carwash clients happy and continuing to attract new ones.

Payment options for carwashes

In today’s market, consumer expectations are high. They expect to be able to get what they want when they want it and without any extra work involved. Consumers search for and compare the most convenient and best-reviewed products and services, whether that be credit cards, restaurants or carwashes, and they choose the brands that line up with their buying habits.3

That could mean that someone may avoid a carwash completely if they have to go inside to buy tokens or purchase a code. Considering there are tens of thousands of carwashes in the U.S. alone, there is likely a carwash down the road that will allow them to pay by credit card or with their mobile device.

As a business, what kind of payment options can you add to ensure you provide the best carwash service for your clients?

Credit card swipe

Being able to pay directly at the carwash with a credit card is a major draw for consumers. Businesses want to make using their services as easy as possible for clients. Removing the need to go and buy tokens or purchase a code removes a step that could deter a potential customer from using the carwash.

Adding the option of a credit card swipe machine does just that. Clients can pull right in, swipe their card, input their PIN and get washing. It is also well known that people spend more when they use a card as opposed to cash. In an article published in Forbes in July 2018, researchers discussed how they found that people spent up to 100% more when using a card.4

Credit card tap

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that many people view using payment cards and cash. Although cash was never really viewed as the cleanliest form of payment, it was once the payment of choice for most people. Now, especially after the initial uncertainties about COVID-19 and its ability to live on surfaces, consumers want the option to tap and go.

Using the tap option on credit cards is extremely popular. According to The New York Times, in an article updated in May 2020, 31 million people used the tap option in March 2020, which was up from 25 million in November 2019.5 By May 2020, contactless payments had grown by 150% in only one year.

There is another added benefit that comes with the tap option. Businesses and consumers alike are no longer held hostage by worn magnetic strips or dirty card readers. These cost businesses money, wastes their customers time and lowers the quality of the experience. Chip cards also offer EMV certified payments, which add another layer of security to each transaction. 

Contactless mobile phone payments

Of all the payment options available, contactless payments on mobile phones have the most potential for carwashes. Mobile phone wallets offer a whole new world of options for carwashes to market to and interact with the customers, well after they have left the carwash.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and Venmo are all contactless mobile payment options and there are many other options out there. These e-wallets use a technology called near field communication (NFC) to securely exchange data between the reader and the payment device.

The major benefit of integrating the use of contactless mobile phone payments is that the e-wallets are often tied to mobile apps which can market directly to them. They can keep up to date with their loyalty programs and discounts as well as make use of their geofencing capabilities. This can alert them when they are in the area, reminding them to visit the carwash or cash in on their loyalty program rewards.

Benefits of contactless and credit card payments

Carwashes have been around in North America since 1914 and have adapted to radical changes ever since then. This is no different. Adding contactless payment options benefits both the consumers and the businesses. For carwashes, these are the three main perks of offering credit card and contactless payment options.


No need to worry about sorting or handing out tokens or printing out codes for customers. This will save time and energy, which can be dispersed elsewhere.


Carwashes will increase profitability in two ways. They will save money by increasing the productivity of their staff by removing the tedious tasks that come along with tokens and codes. Also, they will benefit from increased spending from the customers in their carwashes who are using contactless or credit card payments.

Higher level of service

Contactless payments allow customers to get in and out quicker and being able to do the payment and the washing in one place makes the entire experience more enjoyable. Increasing the quality of the service in this way will result in better word of mouth, happier clients and an overall better reputation in the community.

An investment worth making

The world changes at a lightning speed pace and businesses have a responsibility to catch up. The demand for carwash services is increasing but so is the competition. Give consumers every reason to use your establishment by leveraging contactless payments in your business operations today.







Passionate about personal finance and financial technology, Arthur Dubois is a writer and SEO specialist at Hardbacon. Since his arrival in Canada, he’s built his credit score from nothing and is now one of the go-to experts at Hardbacon when it comes to comparing credit cards.  

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