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Vermont Law Encourages Credit Card Minimum Purchases

By , CardRatings contributor
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Vermont Law Encourages Credit Card Minimum Purchases

Vermont lawmakers challenged credit card company rules this month by passing a law designed to reduce retailers' overhead. Along with language targeting identity theft, the bill protects merchants who want to set minimum sale amounts for credit card purchases. Under Vermont's bill--which goes to the governor for signature--merchants cannot be penalized for giving a discount for preferred form of payment, such as a credit card with lower merchant fees.

Under current credit card merchant agreements, retailers risk a fine for requiring a minimum purchase from customers who wish to pay with plastic. As more consumers choose to carry less cash, interchange fees of up to 4% and processing fees of 50 cents or more per transaction can put a squeeze on smaller retailers. Some convenience store owners lobbied lawmakers for help, citing the example of a candy bar or a bottle of soda purchased with a credit card that can cause them to lose money.

Vermont's bill would fine credit card processors $10,000 for each violation. Credit card industry officials expressed concern that the new rules would limit customer choice, forcing some consumers to purchase more to meet transaction minimums or to pay ATM fees when withdrawing cash at merchant locations. Credit card companies encourage customers to report merchants who refuse to accept plastic for small purchases.

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