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Is It Legal For A Bar To Set A $10 Credit Card Minimum?

Whether you’re bar-hopping for quick drinks or looking to call it a night after one beer, you’re likely to run into a bar with a sign plastered on the wall that states “$10 Minimum For All Credit Card Transactions.” Suddenly, your $3 drink has turned into $10 plus tip if you’re out of cash. Now, you’re stuck with making a choice: either suck it up and pay a 300%+ markup for your drink or force yourself to drink your dollar’s worth which could lead to some very troubling results.

This practice of bars enforcing a minimum purchase for using a credit card isn’t new as there have been reports of this occurring as early as 2006. In fact, it’s only become more and more popular as we’ve all migrated over to using cards and, now, digital wallets.

Why Do Bars Set Credit Car Minimums?

The short answer: money. If there’s a reason a business does anything, it ALWAYS leads to money.  The long answer: If you pull out your wallet, you’ll notice that all of your cards are supplied by either Mastercard, Visa, American Express, etc. Every time you use any one of these credit cards or debit cards, the credit card company charges a processing/transaction fee to the business. This fee varies between credit card companies, sometimes being a flat fee, a percentage, or a combination of both. Credit card minimums are a way for bars to get around these fees.

By implementing a $10 minimum on someone who only paid for $3 worth of alcohol, the bar has basically transferred those fee responsibilities to the customer.

Is It Legal For A Bar To Set A Credit Card Minimum?

As of the time of this writing, in Texas, yes it is legal for any establishment, restaurant or bar to set credit card minimums on all transactions. Prior to 2010, a customer could have reported these minimum purchase practices as a violation of the bar’s merchant agreement with the credit card company. Now, with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that bars and restaurants can set a minimum payment up to $10 without the fear of being fined by credit card companies.

There are, however, various bars around McAllen, Weslaco, and Brownsville that will charge upwards of $20 to $30 credit card minimums. These instances are NOT protected by Dodd-Frank and should be reported immediately to your respective card company.

Doesn’t Setting A Credit Card Minimum Just Force People To Drink More?

Although there is no data to correlate increased intoxication with bars that set credit card minimums, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would be willing to pay 300%+ markup for their drink and instead order more drinks to fulfill the credit card minimum.

With Hidalgo County suffering from some of the most DWI crashes and fatalities in the state, it is our law firm’s opinion that this business practice is abhorrently reckless as it could lead to over-serving customers and subsequently place even more intoxicated drivers on the road.

Bars Can Be Held Responsible For Your DWI Accident Injuries

A secret a lot of bars don’t want you to know is that if they over serve you, perhaps by getting you to fulfill their credit card minimums, they are responsible for your injuries if you crash as a result of being intoxicated. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code has laws baked in to protect consumers from bars who dangerously sell or serve too much alcohol to a customer; these laws are called “Dram Shop Laws.”

In fact, if you’re drunk and crash and hurt someone else, the bartender who over-served you would also be CRIMINALLY liable for that accident.

Call The McAllen DWI Accident Lawyers At Moore Law Firm Today

If you have been a victim of being served too much alcohol where you crashed and hurt yourself, you need to call the McAllen DWI accident lawyers at Moore Law Firm today for a FAST and FREE consultation!


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