Is It Legal To Refuse Large Bills?

You have mostly likely seen the signs that say “We do not accept bills over $20”. You have probably seen these signs at fast food restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, and other businesses.  Have you ever wondered when you saw one whether or not it is legal? 
If you are wondering if it is legal or not the first place you should look would be the Federal Legal Tender Law.  This law states that “United States coins and currency (including Federal Reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve Banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.  Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.”  Okay so what does that mean?
If a business does not accept large bills it must be posted so that the consumer can see it prior to any goods or services having taken place.  It is legal to refuse large bills as long as it is posted so the consumer knows prior to placing an order or having a service done for them.
It is illegal to refuse large bills if it is not posted.  There is another time when it is illegal to refuse large bills.  If it is not posted where the consumer will see it and the services have been done already, the company must accept United States currency.
The law says that a business must accept United States currency.  There is no law however that tells a business what kind of currency they can accept and refuse.  That is up to the businesses’ discretion.
Many people do not understand why a business would not take a larger bill. There are a few reasons as to why.  The first reason is that businesses must be cautious of counterfeit bills.  Larger bills are favored by counterfeiters.  People who make counterfeit money do not usually make $1s, $5s, and $10s, they usually focus on $20s, $50s, and $100s.
That is not the only reason to refuse large bills though.  Many small businesses do not keep a lot of cash on hand.  If they were to accept these larger bills they would not be able to make change for them.  If they were able to make change it would only be for one or two larger bills, then when someone else comes in with a larger bill they would not be able to make change for them.   
Yet another reason that companies do not accept larger bills is that they fear being robbed.  If they keep a lot of cash around they are more likely to be robbed than if they did not keep much cash around.  The business must protect itself if it wants to continue to offer services to the consumer.
So remember that as long as it is posted where you can see it before requesting goods or services it is legal to refuse large bills.  It may be annoying to you at times, however it is what helps to keep the business functioning well.  The company is not trying to annoy you it is trying to protect itself.  Keep one thing in mind though, if it is not posted that they do not accept large bills where you can see it prior to requesting goods or services then they must take the larger bills.  They also cannot legal refuse larger bills if it is not posted that they do not accept them.  So be patient with employees, after all it is not their policy they are just doing what they have to in order to keep their jobs.

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