Businesses Statewide Should Accept Cash

February 19, 2019 GMT

Options for how to pay for goods and services often are as abundant as the goods and services for sale. Credit cards, debit cards, an array of smartphone apps and money transfer services all have made actual cash an outlier for many commercial sales and business transactions. Many consumers do not have access to those options, however, by choice or circumstances. The state Legislature recognized that in 1983, when it reacted to the explosion in credit card use by making it unlawful for any business to require a consumer to pay by credit card. Philadelphia city Councilman William Greenlee wasn’t aware of the state law when he recently introduced a city ordinance that would preclude businesses in the city from barring cash payments. But unlike the state law, his proposal specifically would require all businesses to accept cash. Although cash has become a rare option for many transactions, preserving its viability in commerce is an important piece of consumer protection. Many consumers are poor and can’t get reasonably priced credit cards. Some consumers prefer to avoid credit card costs. Others, cognizant of a long series of retailing security breaches involving credit and debit cards, view cash as the best way to protect their finances and personal information. State lawmakers should take a cue from Greenlee’s proposed Philadelphia ordinance, and require businesses statewide to accept cash.