Payment Choice Act of 2021 would make it illegal for merchants to reject cash payments

July 26, 2021

Reps. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a bill this month to guard American currency as a universal form of payment for goods and services.

The Payment Choice Act of 2021 would make it illegal for retail businesses to refuse to accept cash for in-person, consumer transactions at stores nationwide. The bipartisan proposal has 28 cosponsors.

“There are too many stores and businesses that want to reject American cash in favor of digital payments,” Rep. Payne said. “But cash is the only option available for millions of Americans to pay for food, housing and other essentials.”

The National ATM Council (NAC), which represents independent ATM owners, is among the unattended retail organizations applauding the proposal.

“The nature of this issue, namely preserving the universal acceptance and viability of U.S. currency here at home, presents one of a very few subjects on which all House and Senate members can and should agree,” said NAC chairman George Sarantopoulos, owner of Access One ATM Solutions a New York-based ATM operation.

The Payment Choice Act of 2021 follows recent enactments of similar cash-acceptance legislation by several state and local jurisdictions, NAC pointed out, including New York City, San Francisco, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and most recently Colorado.

These local and state laws all received broad bipartisan support, in response to emerging refusals by some businesses to accept cash payments from their retail customers. Currently, there are 55 million Americans who lack a bank account or credit card and need to use cash to pay for their necessities.  

"NAC commends Congressmen Payne and Smith, and their many colleagues on both sides of the aisle, who are standing up together for the continued universal acceptance of U.S. currency as a payment option for all consumers in America,” added NAC executive director Bruce Renard.

“We appreciate their steadfast commitment to cash as a broad safety net for the millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans,” he continued, “as well as a vital means of personal protection for us all when it comes to maintaining the privacy of our personal financial practices and being assured of having a payment method that always work."


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