They’re called check-out fees. New rules are now in place allowing merchants to tack on the surcharge.
Up until now, merchants have been banned from charging extra for processing credit card transactions, even though these typically cost them in “swipe” fees anything between 1.5 and 3% of the value of a sale. That money is collected by payment networks (American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa), which keep a bit of it, but remit most on to credit card companies.
The settlement, signed on Nov. 9, frees merchants to pass on that cost — though only precisely that cost — at the checkout to a consumer paying with a credit card or a charge card, but not a debit card.
However, those check-out fees are illegal in 10 states: Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.
So if you see that fee added to your credit card purchase in any of those states report it to the state Attorney General.
Several consumer protection groups say most merchants won’t tack on checkout fees, even in states where they’re now allowed, for fear of driving people to the competition. Those same groups say many merchants will skip the fees but raise prices. The newly allowed check-out fees don’t apply to purchases made with debit cards, cash or checks.
The new fees came from a class-action settlement with Visa and MasterCard.