Put the parking tickets -- but not the poker chips -- on the credit card

By , CardRatings contributor

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We've previously talked about how credit cards seem to be quickly approaching the point of universal acceptance. Now it seems like more cities are jumping on the bandwagon, too.

A crop of news articles has sprung up outlining how cities are now accepting credit card payments for a variety of services. The stories are notable because governments tend to be slow adopters. The fact more are embracing credit card payments may signal that we are approaching the day when a checkbook will no longer be a necessity.

However, while more cities are accepting credit card payments, some government officials are looking at restricting their use. If some members of Congress have their way, you soon won't be able to buy online poker chips with your credit card.

Use your best credit card for city services

In the past, it seemed as though cities were hesitant to accept credit card payments. Perhaps it was because of the fees involved or the time needed to set up a merchant account. Maybe it was simply because it had never been done before.

Regardless of the reasons why cities failed to accept credit cards in the past, many are now welcoming them for all kinds of payments. Want to know what you pay for with credit, and where? Here are a couple examples based on news reports:

  • Parking meters in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Gas and boat slip rentals in Lockport, New York
  • Construction permits in Warren Township, New Jersey

Of course, using your credit card for these and other city services isn't necessarily free. Many municipalities tack on a fee to help cover their merchant costs.

Even that may be changing though. The City of Davenport in Illinois recently announced that it was eliminating the convenience fees on credit card payments for city services.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if other cities would follow suit?

Congress looks to limit online gambling

Cities may be expanding how they accept credit cards, but Congress is considering a bill to restrict their use for online gambling.

The proposed Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 would create regulations for Internet gaming including the elimination of credit card payments for online poker. While some in the industry agree it is time for the federal government to regulate online gaming, not all agree that it makes sense to prohibit the use of credit cards.

"Credit card use is encouraged by regulators in other countries because they offer far greater consumer protections than other payment vehicles. It is completely foolish and a mistake to prohibit their use," Michael Waxman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, said in a written statement.

While opinions may be split regarding the use of credit cards for gaming, consumers would be smart to follow some common guidelines whether they are paying for poker chips or parking tickets. Look for a low interest credit card and pay off your balance each month.

And then next time, feed the meter so you don't have a parking ticket to pay.


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