Setting minimums for credit card purchases

Visa and MasterCard, in their merchant agreements, do not allow merchants to set a minimum amount for a purchase. If you accept these cards, you are obligated to accept them for purchases of any amount.

Discover and American Express do allow minimums, but only if minimums are applied to all cards the retailer accepts. Thus, any place that accepts MasterCard or Visa wouldn’t be allowed to set a minimum for American Express or Discover.

If Visa or MasterCard discover that a merchant has violated the agreement, it could refuse to do business with the merchant—violators could lose the ability to accept Visa or MasterCard.

Merchants should recognize that all payment methods have handling costs, says John Mayleben, MRA vice president of marketing. When the U.S. Postal Service was evaluating whether to accept credit cards, “they calculated the cost of handling cash and checks, and it was similar to handling credit cards,” said Mayleben.

It is also good customer service to make it easy for a customer to do business with you. A customer who puts $1.97 on plastic one day may spend much more on other visits.