Some facts about minimum charges with credit cards

Stores can't impose credit card purchase minimums
November 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
You are trying to buy a soda and a bag of chips, and the store owner says that's not enough, you have to buy more than that if you want to use your credit card. Well, don't let them get away with it.

You've seen the types of signs that read "Credit card purchases: $3.00 minimum." Sometimes it is $10 or more.

"It is not fair because then I always end up throwing something in my basket that I didn't really want just to meet the requirement, because I don't have enough cash or whatnot," said Lorena Fernandez from San Francisco.

Often there isn't a sign, just the shopkeeper enforcing the rule and that ticks Andy Jones off.

"I don't want to go around your store picking up eight more dollars of candy bars or motor oil just to use my credit card," he said.

Andy knows something you may not -- it is against the rules for stores to have a minimum credit card charge. He's argued the point before.

"All I wanted to do was buy a Quick chocolate milk for breakfast, $3, $2 maybe, and they said they had a minimum charge of $10 for a credit card, I said, you really aren't allowed to do that," he said.

He bought the milk with a credit card. Visa spokesperson, Jason Alderman, says that's a good thing.

"It is against Visa rules for a merchant to put any kind of minimum or maximum on the amount that a customer has to charge. If you accept Visa cards, you accept Visa cards for any purchase amount. Period," said Alderman.

Seems plain enough, and it's true with MasterCard too, so what should you do if confronted with this issue?

There is a card on Andy's blog that could help you. One side has the rule for MasterCard and the other side for Visa. If that doesn't convince the clerk, report the merchant. The phone numbers are on the card.

"Most of the time this isn't a merchant willfully trying to harm a consumer, it is an education issue. They just don't know," said Alderman.

But now you know and can do something about it.

"That makes me very upset and I would definitely call someone out if they tried to do that to me again," said Jennifer Derrick from San Francisco.


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