Is That $10 Credit Card Minimum At The Bar Legal?


1 minute Read

10 Dollar Minimum

Chances are you’ve purchased an extra drink because a single drink didn’t meet the bar’s credit card minimum. We’ve all been there: You have about 20 minutes to kill, so you order an $8 beer from the trendy bar next to your final destination. You pull out your credit card to pay, and the bartender gives you a big “nope!’ and points to a handwritten sign that says: “$10 Minimum.”

If you’re a member of the Uber-riding, Venmo-using world, you don’t carry cash. So you suck it up and buy a shot of well whiskey just to pay the bill, all the while cursing the money-obsessed Eugene Krabs figure who runs the bar.

Unfortunately, the credit card minimum is legal and it’s not going anywhere. Bars — and every other business — can legally set a minimum charge thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Per Federal Trade Commission rules as of Oct. 1, 2011: “A [payment card network] cannot stop you from setting a minimum dollar amount for accepting credit cards for payment as long as the minimum is the same for all credit card issuers … and isn’t more than $10.”

There’s no way to get around it, either, so don’t even ponder the idea of threatening a bar with a lawsuit. Your lawyer may have passed the bar, but there’s no way for her to pull a fast one on a bar.

“There is not a right for a customer to sue a restaurant for violating the law regarding credit card minimums,” Thomas Simeone, an attorney at Simeone & Miller in Washington, tells VinePair. “That being said, credit card companies take this issue seriously because they want their cards honored as often as possible, so a customer can report the violation to their credit card company.”

So next time you have time for just one drink, make sure you squeeze a little time in for a quick trip to the ATM as well.

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