“Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, credit cards don’t upset us” – Americans charged $6.6 billion in quick service restaurants (QSR) during the first three months of this year, a 57% increase over the same year-ago period. Based on the current growth rate for the first quarter, the amount of fast food put on plastic for full-year 2005 should easily top $30 billion, capturing at least a 20% share of the U.S. QSR market. Last year, Americans charged $22.5 billion to their credit and debit cards in quick service restaurants, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). This year, several major chains, such as Burger King and VISA, have launched promotions to encourage card use. Also, the recent introduction of contactless payments, such the new “Chase blink” card, may also help to accelerate card usage in the fast food market this year. Last week, VISA reported that its QSR volume was up 59.3% to $3.5 billion during the first quarter. VISA’s “Small Ticket Payment Service” volume, which includes the quick service restaurant category, was $22.6 billion, a 19.7% gain over 1Q/04. The fast food market is estimated to produce about $140 billion in annual sales.