Can You Buy Liquor With A Credit Card?

By Bruce Boswell •  Updated: 12/14/21 •  6 min read
Filed under: Credit Cards

As a society, some laws and activities are basic knowledge amongst the population or are passed down to us as children from parents or teachers. These are things like you shouldn’t kill or don’t steal and are met with horror or at least surprise when they happen.

However, human society is so old and complex that there are a lot of laws or prohibitions that we simply don’t know or rely on others to give us the information.

Can you buy liquor with a credit card

A lot of these bits of information are around alcohol, which is hardly surprising as as long as there have been crops to grow, there has also been someone trying to turn it into sweet liquor.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but due to our complicated history and relationship with booze, there are a lot of laws – both essential and questionable – surrounding alcohol that we either don’t know about or were never explained to us.

With the advent of modern society and technology, these laws have been added to until now you would need a lawyer specifically trained in alcohol laws and regulations to navigate them easily.

That being said, there are some that would be useful in your day-to-day life, including: Can you buy liquor with a credit card? In this article, we aim to find out just that.

Alcohol History In The USA

Countries around the world have had problems with alcohol and have gone about dealing with them in their own ways.

In some, it is completely outlawed, like Brunei where it was never much drunk and has caused problems since being introduced, while in others the attitude towards it is fairly lax, like the UK, Ireland, and continental European countries, where culturally it’s quite important.

However, in the USA, we have gone to both extremes on the pendulum of alcohol. In the 1800s, alcohol was a huge issue in American society, this was due to the excessive drinking culture that had taken hold in many communities.

In the areas where alcohol was drunk in excess, there were many socio-economic and domestic problems, some caused by outside influence that was exacerbated by the booze and others caused by alcohol itself.

This led to a temperance movement calling for the end of alcohol in America which eventually led to a prohibition order on alcohol, however this swung the concern of booze from one extreme to another.

The outright ban of booze caused economic difficulties, as distilleries and breweries fought to survive, and gangsters took over the alcohol market. While health, social, and domestic issues got better under prohibition, crime increased, and economic difficulties rose.

The reason I state problems about the extremes of alcohol consumption and prohibition in America is that these two events have had a lasting impact on American law and society to the modern day.

The differences can be seen state to state, with some states having very few laws around alcohol, while others have many, and this will affect the answer to the question of whether you can use your credit card to buy liquor.

So, Can I Use My Credit Card To Buy Liquor?

The answer at a national level? Yes, as long as you have ID, are over 21 and not buying for a minor, you should be able to, most major cities in the US don’t have any further requirements, except in exceptional circumstances, like you’re clearly driving under the influence or are too drunk to be served.

The answer at a state level? It may vary. Some states implement a ‘Cash Beer Law’, where a payment can only be made as legal tender as provided by the United States Code, i.e. cash, checks (including certified, cashiers, tellers, or traveler’s checks) debit cards, drafts, and electronic transfer of funds, provided this transfer is initiated by an irrevocable payment order on or before the date where the payment is due.

In other words, it has to be certain that the money is available and can be taken immediately. With credit cards, the money may not be yours but the credit that the bank lets you use, as such you or the bank can put a stop to any payment being made if deemed necessary, which means no money for the seller.

There are other laws like this in the US depending on the state, so it’s best to check whether your state will let you use a credit card to purchase alcohol.

Should You Use A Credit Card To Purchase Liquor?

Not if you can help it, no. In the US, we have a love/hate relationship with liquor and having that on your credit card may affect your credit score.

This is less likely in countries in places like Europe, where alcohol is intrinsically tied to their culture, say the UK where a beer after work is expected or in France where wine always comes with dinner, but here in the US we see it as just a way to get drunk.

As such, if a company sees you making lots of purchases for alcohol on your credit card, they may be hesitant to give you future loans or mortgages. As such, it’s best to make purchases of booze either in cash or on debit cards with companies you are unlikely to get credit from in the future.

Not only that, but if you are drunk, then you are far less likely to use all the credit on your card at once, if you don’t normally in the first place.


Credit card usage and alcohol purchases are complicated, mostly due to humanities and America’s complex history with alcohol. On a national level, it’s fine to purchase booze with your card, but state to state it gets a lot more confusing.

The further you get away from the big cities of America, the more confusing it gets, until all you can do is ask local government and law enforcement. As such, it is best to look up your state’s laws before taking out your card for a purchase.

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Bruce BoswellBruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell enjoys researching and writing about all things related to investing and saving money. Whenever he has a chance, Bruce loves travelling all around the world with his wife and trying new foods.