MADISON, Wis. (12/11/13)--Credit unions can be an important educational venue for consumers and merchants to learn about credit card surcharges, including what's acceptable and what's not compliant.
Since Jan. 27, 2013, merchants have been allowed to add surcharges to purchases made with a credit card. Both Visa and MasterCard have FAQs on their websites regarding merchant surcharges, and Visa has a form available to file inquiries about potential non-compliance. The Credit Union National Association is providing resources to educate consumers and merchants alike. See the links below.
"Letting credit unions know about these surcharges falls right under our consumer protection umbrella," said Michele Johnson, CUNA director of federal legislative affairs.
The 2012 settlement between the payment industry and retailers provided that merchants can surcharge card transactions but only if they follow a strict set of rules:
The surcharge can only be placed on a credit card transaction, not debit or prepaid;
The surcharge has to be relative to the amount of purchase and cannot exceed the cap of 4% of the transaction;
Customers must be notified of any surcharge before they make a purchase. This can include signage at the store entrance, at the point of sale or, if online, on the first page that references credit card brands; and
Surcharge fees must disclosed on sales receipt.
"We don't want members to be charged surcharges when they shouldn't be," said Rod Staatz, president/CEO, SECU, Linthicum, Md. If members have a place to report non-compliance, he added, then Visa can take care of the issue with the merchant.
Visa is currently the only card company providing a direct link to report non-compliance.
Credit card surcharges are not allowed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.