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Ever since Nellie’s Sports Bar started using the app Tabbedout to let patrons pay their bar bills through their phones, owner Doug Schantz says the number of credit cards left behind has plummeted—from about 15 a night to five or six. Which got us thinking: How sloppy are D.C. bar hoppers? We called 10 bars to find out how many credit cards are forgotten on a given Friday or Saturday night. If an identity thief wanted to moonlight as a bartender, well, he or she could do pretty well.

The Front Page

Cards left per night: 15

The Dupont bar and restaurant cuts up cards after a month, and if someone leaves an ID too, they’ll mail them back. Last month, the bar cut up 113 cards. 

Black Squirrel

Cards left per night: 3 to 4

The Adams Morgan bar has only about 10 cards on hand right now. It shreds them every few weeks. 

The Tombs

Cards left per night: 4 to 5

A total of 24 cards collected from the past two months remain in the current stash. Cards are kept in a bin until it gets full (which usually takes a few months), then cut up.     

The Passenger

Cards left per night: 4

Cards are cut up every two to four months, but the bar keeps a log with the names of every person who’s ever left a card behind. During the last card cleanout, 25 had been left over a month.

Cafe Saint-Ex

Cards left per night: 3 to 7

Cards are destroyed every month. The restaurant and bar currently has about 20 to 25 in its stash.

The Wonderland Ballroom

Cards left per night: 5 to 6

The stack of credit cards can get so thick that the bar got a second box to hold them. The boxes are cleaned out every month or so, but 30 to 40 remain right now.

Rock & Roll Hotel

Cards left per night: 3 to 5

Cards are destroyed every month. They currently have about 15 to 20 cards on hand.


Cards left per night: about 2

When a customer opens a tab, the bartender swipes it and immediately returns it, but still the bar has around 10 to 15 cards on hand. They destroy them after 30 days.

Local 16

Cards left per night: 10 to 15

The U Street NW establishment destroys cards that haven’t been retrieved after one week. It currently has 17 credit cards waiting to be picked up.

9:30 Club

Cards left per night: 5 to 10

The popular music venue keeps abandoned cards in a file for three months before destroying them. The last time employees cleaned out the file, they shredded around 100 cards.

Photo of Satellite Room’s credit card stash by Perry Stein