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I recently went to Sweetgreen (a make your own salad place) for the first time. When I got to the end of the counter and was ready to pay, I tried to hand the cashier a $20, but he said "I'm sorry sir, we don't accept cash".

I was really taken aback and ended up having to pay with a card. After lunch, I did some research and found out that Sweetgreen as a chain is going fully cashless in 2017.

Is that legal? Can a restaurant just not accept cash?

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    Possible duplicate of When can "exact change" policies be enforced?. In particular, stated and referenced in that question: "Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise."
    – user4657
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:39

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Yes

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

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    I don't understand this answer, nor the referenced page. It sounds to me like it's making two statements that contradict each other: first, that cash is valid for all debts, and second, that it's not.
    – Don Hatch
    Jul 6, 2022 at 12:52
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    @DonHatch It's the distinction between payment for a good or service (where legal tender is generally not required to be accepted unless the individual state has a law to the contrary) vs. repayment of a debt (where legal tender is always required to be accepted.) Paying a merchant for a good or service is not repayment of a debt.
    – reirab
    Jul 6, 2022 at 21:15

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