A bill that has passed the state Senate in Vermont that would allow that state's merchants to begin setting minimum purchases for the use of credit and debit cards has drawn praise from retail groups and a lobbying push from the state's credit unions.
S. 138 is now headed to the Vermont House. The measure also prohibits any fines on merchants for advertising lower prices for using cash or for refusing to take all cards at given locations.
"The Vermont Senate's action could be the start of a national movement," suggested Jim Harrison, president of the (VGA) Vermont Grocers' Association in a statement hailing the Senate move.
Vermont credit unions have yet to issue a formal statement about the bill's passage, but reported that that topic was high on the list of legislative priorities when credit union executives met with legislators late last week.
The Electronic Payments Coalition, a group made up of card brands and card issuers, both banks and credit unions, has also not yet released a formal comment on the bill's passage but previously opposed it on consumer protection grounds.
"This [legislation] would allow merchants to set minimum and maximum transaction amounts for all debit, credit and charge card transactions, permitting them to reject a customer's card," the Coalition said on March 16. "Consumers would be forced to carry cash in order to avoid being stranded with no way to pay for the check at the end of a meal, or a necessary purchase at a convenience store."