Merchants who accept Visa and MasterCard payments will now be able to tack a service charge on to your purchases each time you use your card. Up until now this service charge was a cost of doing business for the retailer, as card companies didn’t allow them to pass it along to customers. But due to an antitrust lawsuit filed by retailers, they are now allowed to charge the card owner a fee, which is capped at 4 percent of the purchase price. Debit card transactions will not be affected, and many merchants – who are afraid of losing business – will not make their customers pay the surcharge.
“We have discussed the settlement with many, many merchants, and not a single merchant we have spoken to plans to surcharge,” said Craig Shearman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation. NBC News has asked Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot about the fees, and all three said they had no plans to make customers pay.
Credit card users in 10 states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas – will be off the hook for the new fee, as credit card surcharges are banned in those states. And according to rules set forth by Visa and MasterCard, if any chain store has a physical store in any of those 10 states, they too cannot charge the fee in any of its stores elsewhere.
With stiff competition from online retailers (many of which don’t have to charge sales tax, either) it’s doubtful that many brick and mortar stores will carry through with charging customers the new fee. But if they do, will you continue shopping there and pay it? Weigh in below in the comments.