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Are you ready to use cash?

Watch for new credit card processing fees

From the BBB of Western Michigan

N-Credit-card-feesJan. 29—Beginning this week, West Michigan businesses are allowed to pass along credit card interchange fees of up to 4 percent of the total purchase price to their customers. Businesses in Michigan and 39 other states now have the option of adding this fee to your cost; however, they may only charge the exact amount being charged by Visa or MasterCard to them. Typically, these charges are between 1.5 and 3 percent.

If the business does add a check out fee, it must be clearly posted near the door of a physical store location, or on the website if it is a web transaction. Customer receipts must also clearly state any additional costs to the consumer for using a credit card.

Debit cards and pre-paid cards are not included in this settlement so added charges are still not permitted for using those types of cards.

The ability to pass along their credit card fees to the consumer was made possible through a court-approved settlement in July of 2012. Retailers, 9 major banks, Visa and MasterCard entered into this agreement. The settlement also included $6.6 billion in cash payments to retailers, and a temporary reduction in interchange fees to the merchants. Retailers have been dissatisfied with the expense of providing credit card opportunities to their customers.

The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan recommends that consumers ask about additional costs that may be passed along to them by the merchant for using their credit card. If possible, have an alternative method of payment with you in addition to your Visa or MasterCard. If a merchant does not follow the rules about alerting the consumer to these fees in their store or on their website, let the BBB and FTC know about it.

The BBB often recommends using credit cards because of the protections they offer you in terms of challenging or stopping a payment so you can return defective merchandise or deal with items never received. Credit Cards also offer protection against theft and unauthorized use. Those protections should be considered in addition to the credit card fees in choosing how you shop.

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