What the ACCC does

  • We enforce the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which includes the Australian Consumer Law. This sets out rules around misleading conduct, payment surcharges and lay-by agreements.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t resolve individual disputes.

On this page


Businesses can choose which payment types they accept. It is legal for a business to specify the terms and conditions that they will supply goods and services. This includes whether they will accept cash payment. However, consumers must be made aware of these terms and conditions before they make a purchase.

Businesses should be clear and upfront about the types of payments they accept, and the total minimum price payable for their goods and services.

Credit cards

Consumers can use credit cards to buy goods and services on credit.

They are different from:

  • debit cards, which use money direct from a bank account
  • prepaid cards, which are loaded with money in advance.

Visit the Moneysmart website for tips on using a credit card wisely.

Card surcharges

In general, businesses can charge a surcharge for paying with a credit, debit or prepaid card, but there are rules around what businesses can include in calculating these costs.

If there is no way for a consumer to pay without paying a surcharge, the business must include the minimum surcharge payable in the displayed price for its products.

See Card surcharges for more information about surcharge rules.

Interest-free deals

Interest-free deals let consumers get a product or service straight away, but pay it off over time through a credit card or store card.

After an interest-free period, consumers must pay interest on any money they still owe. Businesses may also charge fees on interest-free deals.

Visit the Moneysmart website for advice on interest-free deals.

Buy now pay later services

Buy now pay later services allow consumers to buy a product or service and delay payment. Consumers usually pay by instalments without being charged interest. However, businesses may charge fees on buy now pay later services.

Visit the Moneysmart website for advice on using buy now pay later services.

Lay-by agreements

A lay-by agreement is a type of contract where consumers pay for goods in two or more instalments, and do not receive the goods until the full price has been paid.

Businesses must provide consumers with a written copy of any lay-by agreement that sets out any terms and conditions including termination fees. Termination fees can’t be more than the business’s reasonable costs in relation to the agreement.

A consumer can cancel a lay-by agreement at any time before they receive the products. If they cancel the agreement, the business must refund their deposit and anything else they have paid, minus any termination fee mentioned in the agreement. If the payments already made by the consumer are less than the termination fee, the consumer must pay the difference.

A business can only cancel a lay-by agreement if:

  • the consumer has broken the agreement, for example by not paying instalments
  • the business is no longer trading
  • the product is no longer available and this is outside the business’s control.

Next steps if you have a payment problem

If a business doesn't accept cash and you are unable to pay using a different method, you may have to take your business elsewhere.

Card surcharges and lay-by agreements are regulated under the consumer laws that the ACCC administers. Other payment methods are regulated under laws administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

If you have a debt from using one of these payment methods, you have rights under the law. See Debt for more information.

Contact the business

If you think you have been misled by a business, or a business has not met the requirements for surcharging or a lay-by agreement, your first step is to contact the business to explain the problem.

If the business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

Get help contacting a business or taking a problem further

Report an issue to the ACCC

Anyone can make a report to the ACCC about an issue under consumer law.

We use these reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.

Make a report to the ACCC

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