Last Sunday, January 27th marked the first day that a merchant would be allowed to charge you a “checkout fee” (merchant-imposed surcharge) for paying with a credit card. While not all retailers will do this, you should know your rights when it comes to this practice. Consumer Action, in partnership with the Electronic Payments Coalition, has produced a new brochure, “Checkout Fees: Consumer Rights and Retailer Responsibilities.” What you mainly need to know – you can’t be gouged, and you can’t be surprised.
- Retailers are required to provide “clear disclosure” or signage in the store entrance, at the point of sale, on their website if it is an online purchase and on your receipt.
- Retailers can only charge a fee equal to what they pay to accept the card—typically 1.5%-3% of the entire purchase.
- The practice of surcharging is illegal in 10 states, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- You cannot be charged a checkout fee for debit or prepaid cards – even if you hit “credit” when you swipe your debit card.
This fee comes as a result of a recent court settlement between retailers and the payments industry where retailers requested and received the ability to pass their credit card acceptance fees onto consumers. For more information, please visit www.checkoutfees.com.