Philadelphia becomes the first major city to ban cashless restaurants

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Some restaurants and stores are trying to move toward becoming completely cashless, card-only. Many critics protest this shift, saying it discriminates against people who don’t have a credit or debit card for whatever reason. Cash-only is understandable: There are often fees associated with using credit cards that can be expensive for small-business owners. But card-only?

Lawmakers in Philadelphia agree with the anti-card-only sentiment, becoming the first major city to pass legislation against establishments becoming cashless. Fortune reports, “After the city council passed a law last month to ban cashless stores, Mayor Jim Kenney made it official when he signed the legislation.” Business owners who don’t comply by July 1 may receive fines of up to $2,000.


The lawmakers point out that cash is an appealing payment option that can’t be hacked, citing some customers who have had their private information exposed after credit card information was obtained from a restaurant or store. Cash also eliminates any paper trail, for those who may be wanting to keep their purchases private. But mostly, the card-only stores make payment impossible for those who don’t have a card for whatever reason, from people with bad credit histories to middle-schoolers wanting to purchase an after-school soda.

Nevertheless, according to the Federal Reserve’s website, no federal law exists that requires businesses to accept cash and coins, making laws like Philadelphia’s necessary. Philadelphia may be paving the way for further bills, with Washington, D.C., and New York City considering similar legislation. Fortune notes that Massachusetts already has a bill in place that forces all establishments to accept both cash and cards.