Requiring card-only payments is illegal in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
card-only payments
ASSSA

MADRID – While some establishments may claim their payment terminals are malfunctioning, preventing card transactions, they cannot force customers to pay exclusively in cash. Conversely, mandating card-only payments is also against the law. 

All retail and catering businesses in Spain must offer their customers the choice to pay in cash. Notably, an amendment to the General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users, effective from May 28, 2022, enshrines the right to cash payment across all establishments. This legislation bars retailers from denying the cash payment option to their patrons. 

Eleconomista.es reports that according to Article 82.4 of the Royal Decree-Law 24/2021, businesses face penalties for refusing cash transactions “within the boundaries set by tax legislation and anti-fraud measures.” 

Aiming to prevent financial exclusion 

This legislation is designed to combat financial exclusion, ensuring every consumer’s right to pay in cash. Concurrently, retailers who decline cash transactions are subject to penalties. While most infractions are deemed minor, they can escalate to serious or very serious. This would be in cases of recurring or unwarranted refusals. Penalties for minor infractions can range between €150 and €10,000. In certain situations, fines might even double or quadruple based on the severity of the breach. 

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Retailers must not insist on cash payments 

On the matter of some shops demanding cash-only payments, consumer advocate group Facua asserts that if card payment is visibly advertised at an establishment’s entrance, businesses cannot insist on cash unless customers are previously informed of card payment restrictions. Establishments that don’t facilitate card payments should provide alternatives. For example, like transferring funds through a bank account or making mobile payments via Bizum. 

Facua underlines that consumers can report such unlawful practices to their regional Consumer Organisations if they suspect violations. Instances where a retailer solely accepts cash – potentially to underreport a segment of their income – can also be notified to tax authorities. 

Related: Fewer cash transactions in Spain because of Bizum 

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