The 10 places where the U.S. wants to mandate cash

U.S. lawmakers are not enthusiastic about the cashless trend being driven by the likes of Amazon Go, sweetgreen, and numerous other merchants of all sizes.

Several cities and states have proposed or enacted legislation banning cashless stores, in an effort to preserve choices for consumers that prefer to operate with cash. Here’s the status of states and cities that currently enforce or are considering a ban on cashless stores.

Boston in snow
George Washington statue in snowfall, Boston


Massachusetts is leading this movement with decades of experience. In 1978, when merchants were growing fans of credit cards, Massachusetts lawmakers approved the Discrimination Against Cash Buyers amendment requiring all stores to accept cash.

Stores that are cashless in other regions must obey the law in Massachusetts. For example, Washington, D.C.-based fast-casual restaurant chain sweetgreen, which has 75 outlets, has altered is cashless policy to allow cash purchases at its Massachusetts stores.
Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford


The Connecticut General Assembly in March approved a bill that would prohibit businesses from refusing cash as payment.

The bill passed March 21 with a vote of 15-1, and it will go into effect Oct. 1, 2019. The law applies to in-person transactions and excludes parking lots and merchants selling goods through memberships.
Atlantic City NJ
Atlantic city,new jersey,usa. 09-04-17: Atlantic City Boardwalk at night.

New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation in March banning cashless businesses.

The law is effective immediately and fines begin at $2,500 for a first offense, rising to $5,000 for a second offense. Exceptions include parking facilities, rental car companies and airport vendors. Additional penalties could apply under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, according to local reports.

Amazon operates a cashless bookstore in Paramus, N.J. Amazon issued a “no comment” when contacted about its plans to cope with government bans on its cashless stores.
New York City taxi traffic
Taxi cabs and vehicles sit at a trafffic light in Times Square in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. New York's city council dealt a political blow to Uber Technologies Inc. and other app-based car-for-hire companies by approving a one-year industry wide cap on new licenses and giving the city Taxi & Limousine Commission authority to set minimum pay standards for drivers. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg

New York

New York's state government proposed a law in 2019 to ban cashless businesses.

Previously, the New York City Council conducted a hearing on a proposal to prohibit merchants from refusing to accept cash. Violators would face fines of up to $500 for each infraction. NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres reportedly is confident the bill will pass by the middle of the year.

Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and NHL’s Islanders, has already phased out cash at most of its 28 concession stands operated by Levy Restaurants, which earlier this year converted Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field to a cashless venue earlier this year. At that sports venue in Florida, Levy provides kiosks enabling consumers to exchange cash for a closed-loop prepaid card usable anywhere in the facility.

New York City is also home to many cashless restaurants — ranging from large chains to small shops — and is reportedly a target site for at least one Amazon Go cashless store.
Portland Oregon sign
Iconic Portland, Oregon Old Town sign with an outline of Oregon and a stag


Oregon’s senate in January introduced a bill that would require retailers of essential goods and services to accept cash from retail buyers.

A public hearing took place on Feb. 21, but no further meetings on the bill are currently scheduled.
Roger Williams Statue, Providence RI

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the General Assembly in February introduced an amendment to its Deceptive Trade Practices law that would prohibit any business from requiring the use of credit for the purchase of goods or services.
Chicago bean
Reflection of Chicago Skyline in Chicago bean - Cloud Gate, Chicago Illinois

Illinois (Chicago)

Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, Edward Burke, in 2017 introduced a proposal to prohibit businesses from banning cash.

The proposed law did not advance and was not reintroduced.
Liberty Bell, Philadelphia
Liberty Bell old symbol of American freedom in Independence Mall building in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

Philadelphia in March became the first U.S. city to ban cashless shops in a law that takes effect July 1, 2019.

Parking garages, wholesale clubs and rental companies are exempt, and fees go as high as $2,000.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

California (San Francisco)

In March, San Francisco lawmakers proposed amending the local police code to require that brick-and-mortar businesses accept payment in cash for purchase of goods and services, other than professional services. Fines would range from $50 to $1,000 for reach infraction.

The city noted that businesses would be able to continue to refuse cash payments in denominations over $20 or currency deemed to be counterfeit.
washington dc
Washington, D.C. cityscape with Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Councilman David Grosso introduced a bill in 2018 to ban cashless restaurants.

That bill did not advance, but in February of 2019 Grosso tried again with a revised proposal, the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019, expanding the ban on card-only merchants to include all retail establishments.