Cash is king in New York, but that doesn’t stop some residents from getting miffed when a business imposes a minimum for purchases made with credit cards. On Thursday, a pair of City Council members introduced a bill that aims to address that very issue.
Proposed by Councilmen Ritchie Torres and Andrew Cohen, the measure would prohibit businesses in the city from setting a minimum greater than $10 for credit card purchases. It’s not uncommon for NYC's bars and bodegas to impose these kinds of minimums on plastic transactions—they eat a fee for every debit or credit card purchase. But when those fees reach $20 or $30, it’s often seen as a ploy to coerce customers into spending more money than they otherwise would.
If it's passed in its current form, the proposal would levy hefty fines for businesses in violation and force shops to post proper signage when they do have a credit card minimum.
Despite the proposed restrictions on credit card minimums, the law would not affect cash-only businesses, a spokesperson from Torres’ office said. But in the bill’s current language, there is no specific protection for cash-only businesses—that may change as it moves through the City Council.
In any case, New Yorkers ought to be paying cash at small businesses regardless. Doing so helps the business owner and can sometimes come with the added benefit of a tax-free purchase. It also helps us prevent a dystopia in which all of our bodegas are replaced by glorified vending machines.