Can I charge my customers an additional amount for using their credit card?
Business owners want to recoup the processing fees charged by Visa/MasterCard/Discover/American Express, but there are rules that govern this activity referred to as surcharging or adding a convenience fee to a credit card merchant service transaction. So what are these rules?
Federal, State and Card Association rules vary based on your state and how you plan to charge your customers –
- Federal Laws – OK to charge
- State Laws – 10 states ban surcharging for all credit cards
Banned in – CA, CO, CT, FL, KS, ME, MA, NY, OK, TX
Litigation in process in – IL, HI, NJ, RI
Visa Rules Must be disclosed prior to purchase
Must be a fixed amount, not a percentage
Because Visa only allows a fixed amount to be charged, for large transactions this can be difficult to manage as you probably won’t be able to cover your small businesses merchant account processing fees with a flat dollar amount.
- MasterCard/Amex – OK to charge
Best Plan – offer discount for check/ACH to avoid issues if you operate in states where convenience or checkout fees are banned. This is the loophole that gas stations use.
Some businesses charge a fee that’s called something else, but this is a questionable practice in banned states.