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Is it legal for businesses to require a $10 minimum on credit card purchases?

Judy Royal

So you rely on plastic to pay for almost everything? I’m with you. I rarely have cash in my wallet when it comes time to pay for something. Many of my friends also use credit cards for most dining and shopping transactions.

When customers use plastic, merchants must rely on the services of credit card processing companies, which act as middlemen in the transactions for a fee. These fees may add to the cost of doing business, but most merchants feel they get a high return on them because so many people don’t carry cash anymore.

While it’s not legal to pass processing fees on to the consumer, it is legal to set minimums for using charge accounts so merchants can avoid the fees and inconvenience for minor purchases that may not be worth the extra cost, according to www.finweb.com, an independent financial portal.

Click here to learn more about credit card processing.

Visa and MasterCard, however, don’t allow minimum charges in their contracts with retailers, so while it’s not illegal it’s still not allowed, according to Bankrate.com. Click here or see below for more on this.

Bankrate.com also says Discover and American Express allow minimums, but only if minimums are applied to all cards the retailer accepts.

Now that you know the rules, you can speak up and/or file a complaint (click here for MasterCard or e-mail askvisacorporate@visa.com for Visa) if stores ask you for a minimum charge when using Visa or MasterCard. The prospect of losing their contracts with these card companies may be enough to get them to do away with minimum charges.

This is just one of several things you might not know about your credit card.

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4 Responses to “ Is it legal for businesses to require a $10 minimum on credit card purchases?”

  1. On July 22, 2009 at 10:46 pm john doe wrote:

    According to merchant rules posted on Visa and MasterCard
    it is illegal for a merchants to implement any minimal charge. MasterCard even goes as far as putting a complaint section on their website.


  2. On July 23, 2009 at 10:50 am Judy Royal wrote:

    After digging a little deeper I found some more information to clarify this issue. While credit card minimum charges are not illegal, they’re not allowed in the contracts between retailers and Visa or MasterCard. The rule isn’t widely enforced, but if stores require you to make a minimum purchase when using one of these cards you can speak up and let them know you’re aware of the contract guidelines or report them to the respective card company. Here a link with more information:


  3. On July 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm a wrote:

    i have a small shop and when people come in and want to make a purchase for anything under $10 or even $15 i would rather not make the sale but i always do. i understand walking into a big chain store and doing that but not to the little mama papa stores!! we barely cover our costs and with a struggling economy and the credit card companies raising there prices on the merchants its really hard to except them. it really isn’t hard to carry a $20 bill on you. it can be stored anywhere from your wallet, pocketbook, to your sock or bra!! anywhere!! i hope i didn’t insult anyone that is not my intention i just want to inform everyone!!
    thank you

  4. On July 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm chelle wrote:

    We own a shop and people try to freaking buy gum or something with a few cents on the credit card all the time. Most times we tell them we have a minimum. If someone is close to the $5 minimum we just let it slide. If they’re around $3 or whatever and they dont’ have cash then we just do it for them. I know a lot of customers understand about the high costs cards can take from the business so most are understanding.

    I do this with other shops, I try to pay a “minimum” on the card but sometimes I think it can be pricey. Some say $15-20 minimum lol

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