Daily Dupaco

Friday, February 01, 2013

Checkout fee may be tacked on to credit card purchases

Beginning January 27, 2013, merchants in the United States and U.S. Territories will be permitted to impose a surcharge on consumers when they use a credit card. This surcharge (also called a "checkout fee") may be applied by the retailer. The fee is not charged by Dupaco, or other credit unions or banks.

This means if you use a credit card to make a purchase, such as a Dupaco VISA, you could be assessed a "checkout fee" if the retailer is one that imposes a surcharge.

What is a Surcharge (Checkout Fee)?
A payment card surcharge is a fee that a retailer adds to the cost of a purchase when a customer uses a payment card.

What does this change mean for consumers?

  • Consumers will pay an additional fee when they use their credit card at retailers that decide to surcharge.
  • Consumers should be aware there are limits to the amount merchants can surcharge.* 
  • Retailers are permitted to apply a surcharge to only credit card purchases and cannot impose a surcharge for purchases made using a debit (PIN pad) or prepaid card. 
  • If retailers intend to impose a surcharge on credit card purchases, they are required to notify customers before customers make an actual purchase at the store entrance and at the point of sale – or in an online environment, on the first page that references credit card brands. 
  • Retailers must disclose surcharge fees on every receipt – both in store and online. Carefully review receipts where checkout fees should appear.

Can retailers offer a discount for cash and check purchases?
Retailers can encourage their customers to use other forms of payment, such as cash and checks, and can discount for PIN debit and cash and checks.

How much is the surcharge (checkout fee)?
* Retailers must limit the amount of the surcharge to the applicable merchant discount rate for the credit card transaction surcharged. In cases where the applicable merchant discount rate exceeds 4% of the underlying transaction amount, in no event can the merchant assess a surcharge above 4%.

States where No Surcharge Laws protect consumers
Surcharging isn't allowed everywhere. As of January 27, 2013, there are laws limiting surcharging in: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Consumers who are subjected to a surcharge or checkout fees in states where they may be prohibited from surcharging may want to report the retailer to their state attorney general's office.

VISA's Operating Regulations also continue to prohibit surcharging outside the U.S. unless there is a local law or variance that requires merchants be permitted to engage in the practice.

More information is available at the following websites:

MasterCard: http://www.mastercard.us/merchants/support/surcharge-rules.html

VISA USA: http://usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/checkout_fees/index.html

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