Pompano Beach, FL asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Business Law and Collections for Florida

Q: Can a merchant set a minimal payment requirement on a debit card?

I went to a merchant (farm store) in Florida and ordered $3 worth of items. Without him saying anything, he charged me $5.30 and gave me the receipt. When I read it he said “it’s $5.30 cause he said there is a minimal purchase requirement with my card (debit card). He then told me to pick something else out worth $2 cause the extra charge. When I told him that it’s illegal for him to do that and that I could get the police to inform him of that (from my knowledge), he said it wasn’t illegal and to leave and never come back to the store.. I know it’s only $2, but the whole situation irritated me knowing from my experience, they can’t set a minimal payment with a debit card PLUS he told me AFTER the fact he already swiped my card and made the purchase... and I’m pretty sure when I went there last they told me it was a $4 purchase requirement and it’s just spiked to $5 within a week..? Is this legal or illegal..?

1 Lawyer Answer

Adam Savett

Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Allentown, PA

A: It's probbaly not illegal for the store to try and set a minimum for debit card purchases, but it most likely violates the rules they agree to with Visa or MasterCard. But, swiping the card for more than the purchase amount and then telling the customer after the fact might very well be considered a deceptive practice, and that might violate Florida's consumer protection law.

MasterCard says:

"MasterCard does not permit merchants to set a minimum transaction amount to accept MasterCard cards that access a debit account."

Visa says:

"Minimum purchase amounts cannot be applied to transactions that are processed with a debit card. "

But those rules are not laws, they are a part of a private contract between a merchant and the payment processing network. So, you, the consumer, can't enforce them. You can complaint to your bank, who may take action.

The Visa rules are here:

https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/download/merchants/minimum-transactions-credit-card.pdf

The MasterCard rules are here:

https://www.mastercard.us/content/dam/mccom/en-us/documents/Min_Max%20Feb%202015.pdf

You can contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Florida Attorney General about possible civil enforcement for possible violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

http://www.myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/18A7753257FE439085256CC9004EC4F7

Best of luck.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

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