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Last week we discussed minimum and maximum charge requirements when you pay using a credit card. It is against credit card policies with Discover, MasterCard and Visa. American Express prohibits “discriminatory practices” against customers using an Amex card, which protects Amex customers from policies prohibited by the other major credit card issuers.
But did you know there are a host of other things merchants are prohibited to do when a customer pays by credit card? Most are not illegal, but are against credit card issuer’s policies. Let’s take a look at some that may affect your next purchase.
If a merchant accepts several forms of payment (such as cash and several choices of credit card), the merchant can’t require you to use a specific form of payment. It is at your discretion.
Similarly, if a merchant accepts a card, he must accept that card as payment all the time, from anyone who offers it properly as payment.
ID: Did you know that sales clerks may ask you for additional ID if you are paying by credit card, but, as long as your credit card is signed, they cannot refuse the sale if you refuse to show additional ID?
Some people write “see ID” or “CID” as an added level of protection against identity theft. But if you show your state driver’s license to a sales clerk, then they have your name, your credit card number, your driver’s license number and your address — this is more than enough information to steal your identity if they wanted to.
Visa and MasterCard both have policies against merchants requesting a customer’s ID before a sale. Visa’s policy also states: “Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures.”
Personal Information: Visa and MasterCard also prohibit merchants form writing the customer’s name, address, driver’s license number, phone number or any other personal information on the signed sales receipt.
Signatures: It is prohibited for a sales clerk or merchant to request a cardholder sign a blank sales receipt with no transaction amount written on it.
Billing: Merchants can only charge your credit card for the agreed upon transaction. They cannot bill your credit card account for past-due charges, unrelated charges, delinquent accounts or to collect on a returned check.
Merchants cannot add fees on to credit card purchases. However, they are allowed to offer a “cash discount” for customers paying cash rather than any other form of payment. That’s how gas stations get away with charging different prices for cash and credit.
Sales tax must be included in the purchase price when paying by credit card; merchants cannot collect tax separately as a cash transaction.
You can see you have a lot of rights as a credit card shopper. There are other things merchants are prohibited to do, even if you make the request. Other decisions are left at the merchant’s discretion. Don’t be surprised if a merchant says no to the following requests.
- Partial authorization (to pay only a portion of the transaction with a promise of the balance at a future date) and split-tender (partial payment by credit card, the rest by cash) transactions are at the merchant’s discretion.
- Merchants cannot give cash back for a return when the sale was made by credit card. They can return the money to the credit card you used for the purchase, or issue a store credit. Merchants should post their return policies. While they are not obligated to issue a credit card return, they must post other terms: exchanges, store credit, or no returns at all.
- Merchants are prohibited to give cash advances by credit card, only by debit card.