Debit Card Minimums

Nov 16, 2022 By Triston Martin

Processing payments made with credit and debit cards incur costs for merchants. Some stores demand a minimum purchase amount to avoid incurring fees even for minor transactions. The fee structure for most businesses consists of a set cost for each transaction in addition to a percentage of the total value of transaction. For instance, if a merchant is charged 10 cents for each transaction in addition to a percentage of the total value of transaction, the total amount of the fee would be 13% for a transaction that was just $1 but would be only 4% for a transaction that was $10. The fees may be charged, but retailers that do so may violate the terms of their contracts with the companies that handle their payment processing if they set a minimum.


In 2013, several rules that regulate how business owners should interact with clients who pay with plastic began to take effect. Two significant shifts took occurred. It is permissible for a credit card to have a minimum purchase requirement of up to ten dollars. Merchants successfully challenged the legislation in New York state that banned surcharges and finally won their case In 2017. The challenge went to the Supreme Court of the United States. As of 2020, it will be legal to tack on fees to credit card payments. The business must pay a charge when you pay with a credit or debit card. Because of this, they are permitted to pass part or all of the cost on to you.

Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards

Since the legislation does not handle debit card transactions from the consumer's standpoint, the costs of taking your payment are typically less than those of a credit card, even if you pick a "credit" transaction at checkout. However, some stores may not know there's a distinction between credit and debit cards, and others may opt to ignore the laws regarding accepting debit card transactions because of their arrangement with card processing networks. Clearly stating that minimum purchase quantities cannot be imposed on transactions processed with a debit card, this Visa paper is meant to assist businesses in recognizing the distinctions between debit cards and credit cards.

Cash Discounts

Offering discounts for payments made with cash is one of the techniques that businesses use to avoid paying fees when consumers pay with plastic. This is one of the strategies that merchants utilize. For instance, you may pull into a gas station that displays one price for payments made with cash or debit cards and another for those made with credit cards. Most cases, the price difference is just a few cents per gallon.

This behavior is permissible as long as the discount is extended to all clients in the same manner. From a marketing point of view, it can also be more beneficial for business owners. Telling clients that they would get a discount if they pay with cash is more appealing than informing them that they will be charged a surcharge if they use a credit card.

Reporting Violations

When dealing with merchants that violate the regulations, it is in your best interest to let them know that you believe they are doing anything unlawful. This is particularly important when dealing with a small company, as the firm's owner may not know the laws.

Accepting plastic is almost mandatory, yet the associated costs might be prohibitive. There is still a cost associated with taking debit cards, even though these costs are often far smaller than the swipe fees associated with credit cards. When making purchases, keep this in mind, and if possible, pay with cash or a check instead of a credit card. It could be able to keep your favorite company viable, which would help maintain pricing at a reasonable level for everyone.

There is no need to file a complaint against merchants requiring a minimum purchase quantity for debit cards with either the attorney general of your state or the Federal Trade Commission since these businesses are not violating any laws. The rules that merchants implement are legal as long as they do not violate national or local regulations.

What Are The Costs Associated With Processing Credit Cards?

The charge structures of individual credit card processors vary, but the average range for credit card processing fees is between 2% and 3% of each transaction's total. Because certain fees are a fixed rate rather than a percentage of the overall purchase, this proportion may be much greater for transactions involving fewer items.

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