Most of us have gotten used to charging purchases, large and small, on a debit or credit card. Just swipe the card and avoid the hassle of carrying cash. Look carefully; you may notice a new fee on your receipt. Retailers are now allowed to pass along to consumers the cost of processing credit cards.
It’s called “merchant surcharging” and it’s permitted in most states. You can be charged up to four percent on each transaction and, similar to sale taxes, merchant surcharging can be automatically added to your bill. After a while, these charges can add up, so consumers may want to reconsider how they pay for goods and services.
Why now? Well, merchants have long been charged a processing fee by the credit card companies when consumers chose to charge their purchases. Previously, the fee could not be passed along to customers. However, as a result of litigation, merchants in the U.S. and its territories can pass that fee along directly to customers using credit cards (but not debit or prepaid cards).
What can consumers do?
Several states have banned merchant surcharges: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. In other states, it’s optional, and will vary from store to store.
For more information on managing your credit, check out BBB’s “Managing Credit – Made Simple” at bbb.org/credit-management
Please note this article only applies to U.S. residents only.