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Vermont Interchange Bill Draws Praise From Merchants

Vermont state Senate allowing merchants to set minimum purchases for the use of credit and debit cards is drawing praise from retail groups, according to report by the Credit Union Times.

The bill, S. 138, is headed to the Vermont House. The measure would prohibit any fines on merchants for advertising lower prices for using cash or for refusing to take all cards at given locations.

"The Vermont Senate's action could be the start of a national movement," said Jim Harrison, president of the Vermont Grocers' Association, in a statement.
Vermont credit unions have yet to issue a formal statement about the bill's passage, but the topic was high on the list of legislative priorities when credit union executives met with legislators late last week.

The Electronic Payments Coalition, a group of card brands and card issuers, also has not released a formal comment on the bill's passage, but previously opposed it on consumer protection grounds.

"This [legislation] would allow merchants to set minimum and maximum transaction amounts for all debit, credit and charge card transactions, permitting them to reject a customer's card," the coalition said in March. "Consumers would be forced to carry cash in order to avoid being stranded with no way to pay for the check at the end of a meal, or a necessary purchase at a convenience store."

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