And at the end of the festival, of course you can get a refund for any remaining cash -- if you ask. For only a $5 service fee.
Holy crap you guys, they are just PRINTING MONEY here! And everybody is falling for it! The vendors are confused when someone pays cash. Cash is rare and weird.
So that first charge, to move money from your CC to this other account, Visa/MC/etc. charge the vendor, Outside Lands for that transaction. Let's say it's $0.30. Of course they're going to pass that along to the customer, and take a taste on top. I'd be shocked if the total fee is less than $2. Probably it's up in the ATM-or-TicketBastard range, $3.50 to $5. And each "auto top-up" will incur another transaction charge. So now they've already charged you like four times, because you underestimated how much you drink and how expensive the drinks are.
And the system guarantees that almost everybody has $21 or more left in the account at the end, of which they can only get back $16. Most people, if they only had $7 in the account, aren't going to bother paying $5 to get $2 back, so there's a "groundscore" effect here too. They get to just keep all that leftover cash.
Currently there are only a few alcoves here that are proudly "cash free", so you can get by without buying Itchy & Scratchy Money. But I'm gonna go out on a limb here and bet this is going to expand a lot next year. Probably the VIP areas will be cashless first, and then the entire event.
And the "convenience" you get in exchange for all these added expenses is... you don't have to use an ATM? Wat?
I always appreciate a scam that is well executed. And this is genius.