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Boston meters stop taking credit cards

Summary

Boston discontinued credit card and debit card payments at its new parking meters, after city officials learned that their minimum purchase requirement of $2 with plastic violated Visa and MasterCard rules.

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Boston drivers will need to have change and bills handy when looking for parking along Newbury Street, now that the city’s new parking meters no longer take credit card and debit card payments.

The decision came on Nov. 21, 2006, with city officials acknowledging the policy of requiring a minimum credit card or debit card purchase of $2 at the meters violated Visa and MasterCard rules.

The city’s commissioner of transportation said Boston immediately discontinued the option of paying for parking at the meters with credit cards or debit cards until further notice, after Visa and MasterCard officials said Boston needed to review its requirement for a minimum purchase of two hours, or $2 worth of time.

The 23 pay-and-display multi space parking meters, along Newbury Street between Arlington and Exeter, will continue to accept dollar bills, dollar coins and quarters.  Since Boston installed the meters on Oct. 19, about 15 percent of the meter transactions have involved credit cards and debit cards — and that number was rising.

According to the commissioner of transportation, until a report by the Boston Globe, city officials were unaware of the credit card association rules against merchants requiring consumers to make minimum purchases when using a credit card or debit card.  He added that it was unclear whether Boston could afford to change the meters to enable drivers to pay with a credit card or debit card for however long they wish.

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