What does the law say about cash settlement in commerce?

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What does the law say about cash settlement in commerce?


If payment by credit card is very common, small purchases continue to be paid in cash



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Apart from certain very specific situations, merchants do not have the right to refuse cash payments.


MONEY – If payment by credit card is very common, small purchases continue to be paid in cash The French have always been very attached to the change. Based on 2018 data from the Bank of France, 68% of purchases from merchants are thus made in cash.

While those under 40 frequently use their bank cards, the use of cash increases with age. And precisely, this type of payment is regulated in France.

Agreement in principle

Whenever you wish to pay for your purchases with euro coins and banknotes, your interlocutor has, in principle, no right to prevent you. A merchant displaying a sign on his front window warning that he only accepts the regulations in Bank card is in violation and can be punished for this. Article R.642-3 of the Criminal Code thus punishes a refusal of 2nd class, ie 150 euros maximum, any refusal of payment in cash.

Only certain very specific situations authorize a professional to reject your cash. The most classic case is that of top-up. The seller is in fact not required to give change and can legitimately refuse to accept more than 50 coins when paying in cash. Similarly, payments are limited to a ceiling of 1,000 euros in cash between private and professional. Aside from these amount issues, stores also have the right to reject counterfeit notes or coins in very poor condition or in foreign currency.

A security measure?

The Ministry of the Interior further specifies that it is possible to refuse payment in cash for “reasons of public order or technical”. And take the example of merchants and parking meters in night hours who can legitimately impose the use of a CB as a security measure. But can this provision apply in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic?

The issue was recently raised with the 60 Million Consumers Association, which has received several testimonies from users who have been refused to use their currency to pay for their purchases. When we know that 5% of the national population does not have a bank card, accepting cash seems essential. In view of the legislation in force, these traders are not within their rights. Especially since the Ministry of Health said in early March on Twitter that “the risk of being infected with Covid-19 by touching coins, banknotes or credit cards is very low.” LHuman rights defender reaffirmed on April 6 that “payment in cash cannot be refused”.

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