Visa Asks Restaurants to Stop Accepting Cash

Jul 12, 2017

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi Prestige Card, Citi Premier CardPremier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom

We already know that paying with the right credit card is the best way to maximize your purchases. But Visa wants to make paying with a credit card your only option with a select group of 50 restaurants. This fall, Visa is offering the restaurants up to $10,000 each in free technology and/or marketing expenses if the restaurant agrees to stop accepting cash.

If you run a restaurant and are interested in getting in on this offer, you can’t apply quite yet. According to Fox Business, Visa will open applications in August. As you can imagine, it’s likely that there’s going to be a lot of interest. So, the issuer is limiting applications to “small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners.”

This is just the beginning of Visa’s aggressive battle against cash. Visa’s new CEO Al Kelly is “focused on putting cash out of business” — a goal that he stated at an investor meeting a couple of weeks ago.

Wait, can businesses legally refuse cash?

Turns out the answer is yes. Despite your dollar bill’s statement that it’s “legal tender for all debts public and private,” businesses can refuse to take cash as payments. The US Treasury’s take on the matter is:

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.

Currently, there’s only one state that “says otherwise”: Massachusetts. The state has a law mandating the acceptance of cash for certain merchants: “No retail establishment offering goods and services for sale shall discriminate against a cash buyer by requiring the use of credit by a buyer in order to purchase such goods and services.” Then the argument begins on whether restaurants would fall under the term “retail establishment.”

With the exception of Massachusetts, restaurants (and merchants of all types) are allowed to refuse cash payments for anything other than debt payments.

Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Whether or not credit card payment is required, to get the most from your restaurant purchases, you’re going to want to charge your meal to one of these cards:

  • Chase Freedom (5x Ultimate Rewards on restaurants from July-September)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Ultimate Rewards)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x Ultimate Rewards)
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards)
  • Citi Prestige Card (2x ThankYou Points)
  • Citi Premier Card (2x ThankYou Points)

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

H/T: The Wall Street Journal

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