More Businesses are Refusing Cash and That’s a Problem!

There’s a growing trend of businesses that have started refusing cash, thereby requiring their customers to use plastic instead.

If you’re one of those who’ve sworn off credit cards, it may eventually get harder for you to make purchases. Some businesses are now refusing cash as a payment option.

CBS News recently reported that several businesses in New York City now require plastic for payment. That means people who don’t have credit or debit cards are essentially being shut out.

That’s despite the fact that cash is by definition legal tender for all debts, public and private.

The New York businesses claim that cash payments slow down the process. That sounds odd to me, since today’s cash registers instantly tabulate the change so the cashier doesn’t have to even be able to do math more complicated than counting coins. (If that’s too complicated, they need to hire smarter staff.)

Another excuse used to sell the idea of refusing cash is that it makes the business less vulnerable to a robbery. Maybe it does.

But there’s a problem here: not everyone has plastic. People who are lower income may have a harder time even getting a credit card. Younger people may as well. Some people, as hard as it is to believe, don’t even have bank accounts, so whipping out a debit card isn’t an option either.

In some cases, aside from the “convenience” for businesses, the “inconvenience” for customers also happens to sound a bit discriminatory.

CBS News mentions one curious fact: “To encourage establishments to go cashless, Visa has offered thousands of dollars to small businesses to only take cards.”

But of course Visa charges businesses a small fee — a percentage of every single purchase — every time a customer uses their card. So one can certainly question whether Visa’s motive might be at least a little influenced by its ability to cash in on the trend.

Cash, however, is a form of money that anyone can use…except in places that are suddenly deciding they don’t want to deal with it.

In some ways, I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

I rarely carry a great deal of cash anymore. I always have a check card and at least one credit card with me. And there’s a good chance I’m going to use my bank check card to pay, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to forfeit the option to pay the way I want or the way that’s the most convenient for me.

If I have enough cash to handle my purchase, I expect to be able to use it.

You’d think refusing cash would be illegal.

Technically, it isn’t, according to certain websites:

While the statute provides that U.S. money is legal tender that may be accepted for the payment of debts, it does not require acceptance of cash payments, nor does it provide that restrictions cannot be imposed upon the acceptance of cash.

We’ve all seen signs posted at gas stations and convenience stores that either state they can’t accept bills in denominations larger than $20 (because they can’t give change for a $100) or that they don’t accept bills larger than $20. Even those businesses accept some cash, even if they’re trying to avoid the larger bills that might attract armed robbers.

But refusing all cash seems wrong to me.

And in a case of an emergency, it could well leave someone without any valid options.

Would it bother you if your favorite businesses stopped accepting cash?

Should businesses be allowed to refuse cash?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.