Jan. 29 - U.S. retailers in many states are allowed to add a surcharge of up to 4% on credit card transactions. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The Daily Digit is 4%. Retailers in 40 U.S. states can now charge up to 4% extra when consumers pay for goods and services with a credit card. These so-called "checkout fees" went into effect January 27 and are the result of the biggest anti-trust settlement in U.S. history. In 2005, a group of merchants claimed that MasterCard, Visa, and nine other companies, including JP Morgan Chase, conspired to fix the fees that stores pay to accept credit card purchases. After years of negotiations, the credit card companies and banks settled and agreed to pay $6 billion to those who sued. As a result, businesses are now allowed to charge customers a fee equal to the cost of accepting cards, which is typically 1.5% to 3% of the purchase price. They must disclose that fee. But it's up to individual businesses to decide whether or not to add the fee. To avoid the surcharge, consumers can pay with cash or debit cards, and when shopping online, they can use services like PayPal. The fees are illegal in California, New York, Texas and seven other states.