When you ride a taxi, the salience of what you need to pay is very high; the fact that the meter is constantly rising makes you hyper-aware of the increasing price throughout the experience of the ride. Apps like Lyft and Uber seem to have understood something that traditional taxi companies haven’t: The act of paying can be painful, and the pain of paying can undermine the pleasure people derive from their purchase. 

Imagine this scenario. A brand new restaurant serves delicious pizza. But this restaurant is also experimenting with a new pricing strategy: For each bite you eat, you will be charged five cents. How much pizza would you eat? And how much would you enjoy it? If you are like most people, probably not much. This (thankfully fictional) pricing strategy would make paying extremely salient, and it would feel painful to us. This is why reducing the pain that customers feel when buying products is so important to how much they value them.

The pain of paying comes from making people think about spending, not the spending itself. The more they have to think about what they are spending, the more unhappy they become. When people feel the pain of paying, it clouds their experience and they enjoy it less. (1)

Key lesson

The pain of paying can influence how much customers enjoy your product. Consider how and when customers pay for your product and ways to minimize the pain. 


  • How can you use insights about the pain of paying to improve your customers’ financial well-being so they don’t overspend against their intentions?

  • When is the pain of paying higher? 

  • Paying once for an all-inclusive resort holiday, or paying for each experience throughout the trip? 

  • Paying for a gym membership or paying per class? 

  • Paying with cash or credit card? 


(1) http://danariely.com/2013/02/05/the-pain-of-paying/