WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Banking Committee members, today introduced the “Payment Choice Act,” a bipartisan bill to provide customers the freedom to choose how to pay for goods or services by prohibiting businesses from refusing to accept cash, posting signs that cash is not accepted, or charging a higher price for using cash.

“Businesses who prohibit cash payments discriminate against the millions of Americans who do not have bank accounts while forcing customers to exclusively use a less secure form of payment,” said Senator Cramer.“Our legislation protects people’s right to choose their preferred currency and ensures the money we print remains usable as legal tender for all debts, just as it says.”

“While I fully understand that businesses have expanded their contactless payment options during the pandemic, refusing cash discriminates against certain populations and denies people equal access to the same goods or services.  The truth is: not everyone carries a credit card or uses cashless apps, and customers paying with cash—legal tender printed and backed by the U.S. Treasury—should not be denied goods or services,” said Senator Menendez. “Our bipartisan, commonsense legislation would guarantee everyone—including those who are unbanked or underbanked–- can continue to participate in the economy.”

According to the Federal Reserve, six percent of Americans are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a checking or savings account, and 16 percent of Americans are underbanked, which means they rely on a variety financial services, such as money orders, to make transactions. Unbanked and underbanked consumers are more likely to have lower incomes, less education, or be a member of a racial or ethnic minority group.

Cash represents up to 30 percent of all transactions and 55 percent of transactions under $10. With more than 35 million Americans having lost their jobs in recent months, many could lose access to financial services and be forced to rely on cash for everyday expenses.

Local and national leaders in the currency-operated machine industry voiced their support for the legislation. 

“Not only is consumer choice in payment crucial to millions of unbanked Americans, ensuring cash remains a viable payment option is critical to small businesses throughout the country,” said Amusement and Music Operators Association President Greg Trent.    

“Senator Cramer has always been an advocate who recognizes the importance of keeping the economy going while at the same time helping serve the underbanked. He is a real champion to both North Dakota, and the nation, and we are indeed fortunate to have his leadership,” said Devils Lake resident Rick LaFleur of LaFleur and Sons.