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Cash Rules: New York City Businesses To Face $1,000 Fine For Failing To Accept Dollars, Coins As Payment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Cash is king once again in the Big Apple.

A new law just went into effect, banning businesses from denying people who want to pay with dollars and coins, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported Monday.

Joe & The Juice in Greenwich Village might serve up healthy greens, but as customer Erica Freudenstein found out, it doesn't let you pay with green.

"Today by the app because we knew yesterday they didn't take cash," Freudenstein said.

Technically, that's now illegal in New York City.

"A lot of the coffee shops around here are just apps and it makes it difficult," Freudenstein said.

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Joe & The Juice is not alone. Grymes found several spots not yet following the new rule.

As of Nov. 19, restaurants and businesses must accept cash as a form of payment. Some had hopped on the trend of only accepting card or app payments.

As lead sponsor of the legislation, Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres wanted to stop that.

"I have constituents who have no access to debit or credit and even if you do, there are some constituents, particularly the elderly, who prefer cash. The choice should belong to the consumer," Torres said.

MORENYC Council Passes Law Requiring Businesses To Accept Cash

The bill passed the City Council pre-COVID, back in January, but just now went into effect.

It means:

  • A business must accept bills in denominations of $20 or under as a payment option.
  • If not, the first violation goes up to $1,000.
  • Then it jumps to $1,500.

Businesses are not required to accept bills over $20.

Many New Yorkers told CBS2 they support the law.

"I do, absolutely, especially for the old people like me. We're not used to using credit cards all the time," Greenwich Village resident Mimi Vang Olsen said.

"If that's the new rule, that's fine. It doesn't affect me either way. It feels like I won the lottery when I find cash in my own wallet. That's how much I'm living in a post-cash economy," added Noah Gorsky of the Upper West Side.

A business owner who did not want to talk on camera told Grymes, for her, not accepting cash is safer. There's nothing for people to come in and rob and nothing for employees to steal. She said it also makes transactions quicker and more sanitary for her workers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is in charge of enforcement, which a spokesperson said is based on complaints.

Customers can call 311 or log a complaint online.

CBS2 reached out to Joe & The Juice for comment on its cashless business, but got no response.

The Department of Consumer Affairs said it has shared information about the new law with several stakeholders, including businesses and community boards.

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