The use of plastic cards to purchase age-restricted goods and services (whether it be gambling, videos and DVDs, cigarettes, offensive weapons, solvents etc.) is not an issue restricted to plastic cards; credit, debit and prepaid cards are essentially payment tools, like cash or cheques.
In today’s financially inclusive society, both debit cards and/or prepaid cards are widely available to young people under the age of eighteen. A large number of young people are in full or part-time employment and require access to their funds in both the physical and virtual environments.
The responsibility for identifying whether a customer is of a suitable age to purchase any goods which are age-restricted lies with the retailer - whether in a shop or online. With any goods or services where a sale is restricted by age-related prohibitions, in order to comply with the relevant legislation it is the retailer’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate checks are made on age-restricted sales, regardless of the method of payment used, to ensure that the sale is legal - i.e. to a person of the stated minimum age or above.
The UK card payment industry makes every effort to ensure that its products are used in the appropriate manner by its cardholders and retailers in line with their Terms & Conditions of use. Terms & Conditions will always specify that we do not tolerate debit and credit cards being used for illegal purposes. If a bank or card issuer is aware of a card being so used, that facility will be withdrawn.
More information and advice on age restricted sales, and more generally the options on card use for those under 18, can be found in the following two digi-guides:
There is a page dedicated to age related sales as we classify this as a hot topic, please see Hot topics for this and more issues that are in the public eye.