Americans for Common Cents (ACC) conducts research and provides information to Congress and the Executive Branch on the value and benefits of the penny.

Increase in Legislation to Defend Payment Choice

Miami-Dade has passed an ordinance that would require businesses in the Floridian county to accept cash, based on concerns that business refusal to accept cash and coin damages minority communities and overall choice.

Many states including Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island already have pro-cash legislation, as do cities including New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

At the federal level, there is bipartisan House and Senate legislation that defends the right to pay in cash.

Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ) has introduced a bill that would ban retail establishments from refusing to accept cash payment for goods and services. Payne says moves to cashless payments mean financial and social exclusion for those who are precluded from participation in a digital society, particularly the young, elderly and minorities who use cash more frequently than individuals with higher incomes. About 25% of US households are either “unbanked” or “underbanked,” typically those with low incomes who lack the minimum balance to open checking and savings accounts. Moves to cashless retail limits the places where the poor and communities of color can access goods and services.

Strong concerns about restaurants and other businesses refusing to accept cash led to the introduction of federal legislation. Many of these cashless trends were exacerbated during the pandemic. The House legislation and a companion Senate bill recognize that cash is a public good and also the importance of ensuring its continued existence alongside electronic and innovative payment options.

Everywhere you go, you’re starting to see us move away from a legal tender to cashless situations. I just think that the only one that benefits is the banks. I’m not saying get rid of cashless… but it should not eliminate cash.

“René García, Miami-Dade County Commissioner

Commissioner René García who introduced Miami-Dade ordinance says banks benefit from card payments through transaction fees, meaning higher costs for individuals and businesses, which disproportionately affects the unbanked and underbanked people who are often members of minority communities.

Making it clear that he is not telling anyone to abandon cashless options—only seeking to ensure cash remains a choice—García says he has concerns about entering ‘murky waters’ of eliminating legal tender from the payment mix.