Consumer Alert - new credit card check out fees begin this weekend

If you use your credit  cards at retailers, be aware that as of January 27th, 2013, you might be charged an extra "check out fee."

This will not happen if you use your debit card - -just credit cards.

This settlement was reached in July of 2012, and now is ready to take effect. It's been speculated that larger retailers (like Target and Wal-Mart) probably won't charge these fees, but smaller retailers might.

Some states have banned them, but PA is not one of those states.

You do have rights, according to Consumer Action

Here are some of the things you need to know:

What are your rights and retailers’ responsibilities?

  • Checkout fees are only permitted on credit and charge cards, NOT debit cards.
  • Checkout fees are illegal and, therefore, not allowed in 10 states. The laws of each state would determine whether it would be legal for companies based in other states to charge residents of its state. Residents of these states who encounter retailer checkout fees can report them to the state attorney general. These states include:
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

Find contact information for your state attorney general at the National Association of Attorneys General website.

  •  Retailers only are allowed to charge a fee that is equivalent to what they pay to accept the card, which in the U.S. is typically between 1.5% and 3% of the total purchase, although a maximum fee of 4% is permitted.
  •  To avoid surprising consumers with the new fee, retailers must provide “clear disclosure” (such as signage) of any checkout fees:
  • at the store entrance,
  • at the point of sale, offline and online
  • on customer receipts.
  • The disclosure on the receipt must list the amount of the checkout fee, the fact that the merchant is imposing the charge and that the fee is not greater than what it costs the retailer to accept credit and charge cards.
  • Checkout fees can vary for different kinds of cards (such as rewards cards or premier cards) so be sure to ask your retailer in advance if different surcharges apply and choose your payment card accordingly.