Beginning this weekend, merchants can legally charge a surcharge fee of 1.5 to 3 percent when you use a credit card to pay for a purchase in a store or online. In an article on MSNBC Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, Jenn Strathman explains why it will probably not be a problem for most consumer purchases.
While stores will have the ability to charge this fee, the National Retail Federation told me consumers don’t need to worry about this fee because the majority of businesses will not pass it on to the consumer. The Retail Federation called it “propaganda from the credit card industry.”
The new fee is a result of a lawsuit that the retail industry filed against the major credit card companies to get the fees reduced. They did not have the intent to get the fees passed to the consumer!
The fees cannot be charged on the use of a debit card or an American Express card; American Express forbids it. American Express policies will also help protect all consumers from these charges. MSNBC explains:
The NRF said American Express agreements reduce the number of stores that could charge this fee even more. The settlement says if you surcharge Visa and MasterCard the same must happen with AmEx. The NRF said the AmEx agreement prohibits the fee.
The new legal credit card fees cannot be charged in 10 states that have laws prohibiting the charge: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.
According to what the NRF told Jenn Strathman, Master Card and Visa have rules that the fees must be uniform in all of a company's stores. The ones with a retail presence in any of the above states, cannot charge the fee.
This article on MSNBC.com did mention that Visa contradicted that statement. Regardless, this would be a real problem, according to Strathman, because people would make purchases in neighboring states, causing a loss of business and tax revenue.
Probably the only places that will utilize the new fee right away will be very small, individually-owned businesses. There must be a notice at the entrance and at the cash register so you can have an opportunity to make other arrangements.
You now need to be sure that you know the pin number that makes your bank card run as a debit card instead of a credit card. Experts have long encouraged us to run our debit card as a credit card for security purposes, but that may change in the light of these developments, especially on larger purchases.
The new fees begin on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
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