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When Merchants Violate Credit Card Rules

When Merchants Violate Credit Card Rules

While most merchants you deal with are honest businessmen who are interested in doing good business, there are definitely some who want to take advantage of their customers. Many of these merchants do so by not playing as per set credit card rules and by indulging in wrong credit card practices. They figure that their customers will not know they are being cheated, and if they do not cheat every customer, they will not be caught.

Why Are Rules Violated?

The main reason some merchants do not play by the rules is to recover merchant fees imposed on them by credit card issuers. Some legitimate merchants also break the rules because they do not know that they are actually doing it. If a merchant passes on the fees imposed by the company that issued the credit card, or attempts to, these violations can be charged back to the vendor. This is a clear violation according to the terms and conditions. So is making money from uneducated customers. All the customer has to do in this case is contact the issuing bank and document the issue.

Minimum Purchase Charge

One of the most common violations is the “minimum purchase” charge requirement. This is when the merchant states that the customer must make purchases equivalent to a minimum dollars amount in order to accept payment through credit card. The best way to handle this transgression is to go ahead and purchase something to reach the set amount. If you do not want to do that, then you can go to another store. The merchant must have a sign up stating the minimum purchase so that a customer can see it before coming to the register.

Optional ID Request

It is allowed for a merchant to ask for an identification card when a customer is paying with a credit card to make sure the card is not stolen. However, the customer can refuse to do so and the merchant cannot make this a condition of the sale.

No Extra Fees for Using a Credit Card Instead of Cash

A merchant cannot tack on fees to a credit card just because a person prefers to use a credit card instead of paying cash. However, it is okay to offer a customer a discount if they use cash or use a debit card. It is also legal for the merchant to charge a higher price for an item if paid for by credit card, but they must put the cash price on the product and they must show that the cash price is a discount for using cash.

If You Are Asked for a Phone Number

If you make a purchase, and the merchant asks for your signature and phone number, you can just sign the credit card slip and hand it back to the merchant. If they insist on a phone number, you can tell them that you do not give out that information. It they insist, you can either give them your phone number, or write the number of the store in the space where they want a phone number. You can either give a phony number, or just tell them that the credit card company does not require your phone number to complete a sale, with the latter of course being the preferred option.

Just make sure that you are firm but not yelling at the merchant. Do not let yourself be bullied into signing your number on the credit card slip. If you want, you can also tell the merchant that you have decided not to purchase the item and will go somewhere else. In this situation, the merchant will usually relent and finish the transaction.

When Paying by Check

If you pay by check and the merchant asks your credit card number to put on the back of the check, then in some cases, you may have to comply with that request. However, the merchant cannot charge your credit card if the check bounces. That part is illegal. In some cases, they can ask to look at your credit card and the merchant can write the name of the card and expiration date on the back of your check, but not the number.


When a merchant is not playing by the rules, you need to contact your credit card company or the issuing bank. The number to call is usually given at the back of the card or you can find it on the Contact Card Issuers page. However, you can avoid this hassle by dealing directly with the merchant and pointing out where exactly s/he is not following rules.

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Copyright © 2022 | Image: Not posted | Categories: Banking, Financial News


  1. A. Shoultz says: [02 Dec 2010 - 16:31 • ]

    This is good information. After being charged a fee to use my Visa card, I first contacted my bank, which issued the card, and then spent an hour on the phone trying to talk to a Visa rep. so as to hopefully stop this practice. Guess what? The bank doesn’t have a customer service number, and the number on the back of your card takes you to either a card verification site or a processing center.

    I did find a Visa site on-line and filed a complaint but I expect nothing.

  2. Dee says: [19 Apr 2011 - 13:13 • ]

    I have been going to the same salon for years, and the other day, I went to pay with my band debt card and the merchant told me I would be charged $.97 cents for using the card,she explained that she had to pay for the use of the visa machine so the customers are charged an extra fee for usage. I told her there was no sign stating that extra charge and I for years no one ever told me about the charge. She didn’t charge me after all. I am using my debt card to give them my “Card Cash” and then they want to charge a fee for that, unbelievable. But I got my way. It’s not legal people!!

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