Stores cannot put purchase minimums on Visa cards
Can merchants require a $10 minimum Visa purchase? I see signs popping up all over requiring a minimum purchase. I recently purchased an $8 item at a shop in Waianae and was told there was a $10 minimum purchase credit card requirement. After arguing legalities, my card was accepted, but I was told they "had a right to not do business with me." This seems a perfect way to be discriminatory and ensure getting the "right" customers.
Answer: Merchants cannot require a minimum purchase amount for Visa or MasterCard credits cards.
We contacted Visa and was directed to its Web site -- usa.visa.com -- for answers to its most frequently asked questions.
Under the topic of "Purchase Minimum," it said merchants are not permitted to set minimum transaction amounts, even on sale items.
They also are not allowed to charge you a fee to use a Visa card.
If you are required to make a minimum purchase or run into any other problems, you are advised to notify the financial institution that issued you your Visa card. The card issuers can help you document your case and file a complaint.
Look on the back of your card or Visa statement for contact information.
There are no federal or state laws governing such a requirement, according to the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii.
A few years ago the national Better Business Bureau issued a news release telling consumers that they may use their Visa cards or MasterCards to pay for any item, no matter how low the price.
A spokeswoman for the Hawaii BBB told us that information "remains current and accurate."
While American Express and Discover do not prohibit minimum charges "per se," the BBB said both companies prohibit merchants from charging a higher minimum for their cards than other cards they accept.
That means if a merchant accepts Visa or MasterCard, it cannot require minimum purchases for Discover or American Express.
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