For those who are already late for something and want to get the answer and go . . . Yes, businesses can refuse to accept cash.
If you have a little more time and want to hang around for more details, here they are . . .
U.S. currency is “legal tender.” Indeed, a federal law — the Coinage Act of 1965 — states specifically that “United States coins and currency . . . are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” And U.S. currency states right on its face that “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.”
But just because cash is legal tender does not mean that every person or business must accept cash for payment.
Why? Because there is no federal law requiring it. Here is how the Treasury Department explains it:
“[The Coinage Act of 1965] means that all United States money . . . [is] a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.”
For various reasons, I think we will see more and more businesses declining to accept cash or, at least, not always accepting cash even in face-to-face transactions (such as convenience stores and gas stations that do not accept cash at night).
**These questions and answers are designed to provide helpful information that can be read quickly. They are neither a full explanation of the subject nor legal advice. To learn more, and to receive legal advice on which you can rely, contact me or another lawyer.