Debit or credit?


Dear Department of Commerce: If you were to go and do some grocery shopping across many of the CNMI’s retail stores, you would find that consumers using debit and/or credit cards are being forced to make a minimum purchase for using such a payment method. I believe that a public education campaign in this regard is needed to prevent violations of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

I don’t claim to be an expert in the matter, but have found through a bit of research that all merchants are legally able to impose a minimum purchase, up to $10, for customers paying by credit card; however this does not seem to apply to the use of debit cards. The question I have is what happens in the case when the individual is using a Bank of Guam or First Hawaiian Bank check card? I’ve witnessed vendors ask individuals whether they want to use credit or debit. If one were to say debit, would it be illegal to ask them to make a minimum purchase of $10? If they performed such an illegal act, then where do we report such transactions in order to protect our consumers?

Ross S. Manglona
Dandan, Saipan

Contributing Author

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