As a followup to my earlier article about merchants being unable to require a minimum purchase for credit card transactions…
Did you know that merchants can’t require you to show an ID in order to complete a transaction?
According to a recent Q&A in the Baltimore Sun:
Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID. Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures.
As for MasterCard:
A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI [point of interaction] refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards. A merchant may require additional identification from the cardholder if the information is required to complete the transaction, such as for shipping purposes.
Apparently, American Express and Discover have similar rules.
There are, however, some exceptions… For example, they can ask to see an ID if your card isn’t signed. And if you’re paying remotely, like over the phone or on the web, they can ask for identifying information such as your zip code (I’ve also seen on this on pay-at-the-pump transactions).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all businesses follow the rules. If a merchant demands to see your identification, and then refuses you service if you fail to comply, your only real recourse contact the card company and provide them with the name of the business. Most card issuers will initiate an investigation and may even penalize the business for violating their merchant contract.