While it’s a bit premature to proclaim an end to cash-based society, I was recently reminded of just how plastic-dependent we’ve become. While on a short flight on Southwest Airlines the other day, the flight attendants came through the cabin offering a variety of energy drinks, beer, wine, and cocktails for sale. While airborne beverage sales are commonplace, I was a bit surprised to learn that they wouldn’t accept cash as payment.
“As we come through the cabin, please keep in mind that we only accept credit cards* or Southwest Airlines drink coupons as payment,” came the voice over the loudspeaker.
I’m not sure how long they’ve had this policy, but it struck me as odd that they wouldn’t accept cash. Instead, they’ve chosen to arm their flight attendants with handheld credit card readers and subject themselves to the fees that come along with credit card usage. Perhaps they’re concerned about theft, or maybe it’s simply an efficiency thing. I’m really not sure.
Anyway, before anyone asks, yes, it’s perfectly legal to refuse cash payments. True, the Coinage Act of 1965 states that:
“United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”
This means that cash money (as defined above) is a valid form of payments for debts when tendered to a creditor. What it does not say is that private businesses, individuals, or organizations have to accept currency or coins as payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to establish their own policies on the acceptability of cash unless there is a state law that says otherwise.
And now that we’ve had our civics lesson for the day…
Have you run across businesses that favor credit over cash?
*I’m assuming that they’d also accept debit cards.