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Minimum Purchase Requirements Stink

Ever stopped by a convenience store to quickly buy a drink with your credit card only to have the cashier point to a tiny sign taped to the wall that says "Sorry—The Minimum Credit Card Purchase is $5"? How inconvenient is that?

I understand all the costs small business owners must endure to accept credit cards, but as a consumer, I think minimum purchase requirements really stink. Credit cards are all about convenience, and businesses that choose to accept them in an effort to conveniently grow their revenues shouldn't be allowed to inconvenience customers by placing restrictions on when they can or can't use credit cards.

Besides, it's really embarrassing when I have to run back to the car to search for loose change.

If a business wants to make the decision to not accept credit cards at all, that's perfectly fine. Put up a big sign that says "CASH ONLY", and us credit card lovers won't waste our time in your store. Of course, if your product or service is awesome enough to convince me to hit up the ATM each time before visiting, than I probably wouldn't mind anyway.

Unfortunately, the new Financial Reform Act doesn't look like it's going to help out much with this nagging issue. In fact, the new legislation would give Congress's full support to merchants who want to impose minimum purchase requirements up to $10.

The act, if passed, will also give the Fed the right to increase minimum purchase requirements in the future. Likewise, merchants would be able to offer discounts to customers who are willing to pay in cash or with a debit card instead of credit cards. While I'm clearly not a fan of cash purchases, a big up-front discount would be hard for even me to turn down under certain circumstances.

What do you think of minimum purchase requirements and merchants offering more discounts for cash purchases? Is this a positive change for consumers, or one that will eventually leave us on the short end of the stick yet again?

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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