New York bans cashless retail businesses

Originally published at:


Good. Even as someone who is well enough banked and probably relies on using my card too much it annoys me to see that not accepting cash is becoming a thing.


At first I read this the wrong way, thinking they were banning places that only take cash, as I tend to think of NYC as a place that runs on cash and remind myself when I’m visiting to carry cash for corner stores where they really try to discourage using cards.


This is good. It’s a discriminatory practice at best. There are some places in NYC that offer a minor discount when using cash. It’s not a huge discount, but it’s a discount. Let’s see a law mandating that.


I guess when the paper says, “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”, that doesn’t quite mean what I think it means.


Wait, a city actually did something that was beneficial to its RESIDENTS? Was some lobbyist sleeping on the job here?


The trick is the word “debts”. If you walk into McDonalds, place an order and then try to pay with pennies, they can tell you that they don’t want to participate in a business transaction with you, please go away, despite having legal tender. Same for Best Buy or whatever. Attempting to buy something is not a debt, they can always say no (barring a law like this or on the basis of protected class- can’t refuse service on the basis of skin color for example).

However, if you ate at the restaurant and then have the bill brought to you, THEN it is a debt. They then have accept whatever legal tender you wish to use unless negotiated otherwise beforehand.


I used to think that way, too. Apparently, this means that you can pay off a debt that you’ve already incurred with cash. Most retail places don’t give you the thing you’re buying until you’ve paid them, so there’s no debt until you’ve “mutually” agreed on a payment system.

Restaurants are interesting, though, since most sit-down places bring you the bill after you’ve eaten the food.


As they should, since they are generally charged a percentage transaction fee by card companies. Here in Toronto it is very common in cash-friendly areas (like Kensington Market) to refuse cards for any transaction less than ten dollars or so.


I can’t speak for NYC, but in New Zealand it’s not uncommon to see it being 2% or so cheaper if you pay by cash, because they retailer is allowed to charge you the 2% cc fee.

We also have a very robust debit card system entirely detached from the credit card companies, which is treated as equivalent to cash by 99.999% of retailers, to the point where it’s seriously detrimental and highly unusual to not accept it.


Or post a sign, eg, “We will not accept a ton of pennies”.

1 Like

In Canada, the merchant generally has to sign an agreement saying that they will not charge customers different prices based on their method of payment. I bet New Zealand has a law forbidding that kind of clause.


Nah, MasterCard was outbid by the mobsters.

There are a few places near the financial district that won’t take cash. I prefer not to deal with them, tiring as I am of leaving a data trail everywhere…

… he says, posting with his actual name … :roll_eyes:


“Unbanked.” Ugh. Awful neologism. Can we stop?


cash is not needing corporate permission to spend money


Cash in the USA is fiat currency, therefore you need both government permission AND corporate permission to spend it. And since the government is practically owned by corporations…

1 Like

Well, in the USA and essentially every other developed economy. In any event, what government permission is needed to buy my pizza or pay my rent in cash?


Up to 2009 thats how we did things. Then the Commerce Commission struck a deal with Visa & MasterCard that retailers would be allowed to pass on the costs of accepting CC’s. Subsequently, a bunch of places like petrol stations tried adding the surcharge and had a massive public backlash. Now it’s typical to see it for online retailers, if you use cc or cc-debit cards, and places like Car service shops and other more specialised service providers. The caveat being, they’ll always take eftpos (our non-cc debit system) and not charge anything extra. We even have an online bank transfer system that’ll essentially do a bank account-to-bank account payment and totally avoid the need for a credit card (it’s not that common though) that portals like a credit card payment system and doesn’t require the merchant to hand over their account and ope you type it in right.

Contactless payment has been causing issues too, since it’s run through the credit companies (even if it’s tied to your debit account) so it attracts their 3% fee, and lots of small retailers simply won’t accept contactless. Again though, you can just slide your card in and do the old chip-or-magstrip payment and they don’t get charged anything extra.

1 Like

Just wait, when the zombie apocalypse arrives, cash will be king again. Along with food, fuel and ammo. Maybe not in that order.

1 Like