As part of a new settlement, merchants in 40 states can now customers a surcharge of up to 4 percent of the transaction for using a credit card. This is to allow retailers to offset the costs that credit card companies charge in processing fees, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be eager to foist those fees onto customers just because they can.
For one, the intent of the original lawsuit was to lower prices for consumers, according to the National Retail Foundation. Passing the credit card surcharge to customers would defeat that purpose and would likely create backlash to some degree. Merchants understand this, which is why some, such as Target and Wal-Mart, specifically stated that they would not transfer the “unfair” credit card fees to customers.
Additionally, the settlement comes with its own set of rules. Not only is the surcharge banned in 10 states, Visa and MasterCard require merchants to have the same set of rules for credit cards in all their stores. Therefore, companies with stores in one of the 10 states in which the settlement doesn’t apply wouldn’t be able to implement the surcharge in any of their stores in the other 40 states either.
We reached out to the 10 largest U.S. retailers, according to 2011 sales data by the NRF, and here what they plan to do regarding credit card checkout fees:
|Retailer||2011 U.S. Retail Sales||Credit Card Surcharge?|
|Kroger||$85.5 billion||Did not reply|
|The Home Depot||$62.1 billion||No|
|CVS Caremark||$59.7 billion||No|
|Best Buy||$37.6 billion||Did not reply|
|Safeway||$36.9 billion||Did not reply|
Still, we advise consumers to keep your eyes open for changes in policy at your local retailers, and carry cash or a debit card in case you come across the surcharge while making a purchase.
We’ll update the table if and when more retailers respond to our inquiries.
(UPDATE: A Lowe’s spokesperson says that Lowe’s has no intention of imposing a credit card surcharge.)