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.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

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.