New state law forces businesses to clearly disclose credit card surcharges
A new consumer protection law aims to keep customers in Central New York and across the state from being surprised at checkout. As of Sunday, the new state rules require businesses to include and display any surcharges for using a credit card in the price of any goods or services.
Prior to the new law, many businesses would simply note that using a credit card would incur a fee, but not necessarily include it in the total price. Tom Dellwo is a financial education coordinator at Cooperative Federal Credit Union in Syracuse.
“I support the idea that we should see prices inclusive of any fees right on the sticker before we walk to the register cause when you walk to the register, you already brought your items to the register, you’re probably just going to go forward with the transaction and accept it,” Dellwo said.
Merchants now have to list the credit card price including the surcharge, with or without the lower cash price.
Why the change? In the past few years, many businesses have started tacking on an additional fee for credit card transactions to make up for the processing fees imposed on them by credit card companies.
The fees on merchants vary depending on what type of card is being used, but they typically fall into the range of 1% to 4% of the amount being credited plus an additional flat fee. This means on a $50 purchase, a business could lose anywhere from 50 cents to a few dollars compared to a customer paying in cash. Dellwo believes that while the transparency is good, the bill probably won’t save consumers much money.
“At the end of the day, I think they’re still likely to pay with credit card even though the prices will be slightly inflated,” Dellwo said.
A 2022 survey shows most people are still paying with plastic. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, over 40% of Americans never pay in cash for expenses in a typical week—just 14% almost exclusively use cash.
The state Division of Consumer Protection has more information, and offers mediation services between consumers and businesses on their website.
A press release from the state included the following information on the new law:
"The following practices and examples comply with the law’s credit card surcharge notice requirements. See the Department’s Credit Card Surcharge Guidance Document and educational video for additional examples:
- The business lists the higher credit card price next to a lower cash price.
- The business lists the credit card price for items and services, then lets customers know they will receive a discount for using cash.
- The business changes all prices to the credit card price.
- The business posts a sign on the door and at the register stating an additional 3.9 percent surcharge will apply for credit card purchases.
- 'This business has a 4 percent cash discount incentive built into all pricing. Any purchases made with a credit or debit card will not receive the cash discount and an adjustment in cost will be displayed on your receipt.'
- A convenience fee, service fee, administration fee, non-cash adjustment, technology fee, processing fee, etc., is charged to credit card users and added as a separate line item on a customer receipt.
- The price tag of an item shows '$10.00, + 4 percent if paying with a credit card.'"