Credit card fees now allowed at Ill., Ind. stores

January 29, 2013 4:14:36 AM PST
Credit card users may soon suffer from surcharge shock.

Retailers now have the right to impose up to a four-percent surcharge on all credit card purchases.

It's no surprise in January the retail crowds thin. At The Irish Shop in Oak Park, just about any transaction will be by credit card.

"We saw this change over the years, so most of it is charges," said Jim August, The Irish Shop.

The shop's co-owner says he factors in fees to credit card companies as the cost of business. So even with a new settlement with some credit card companies, he doesn't expect to pass along those fees to his customers.

"To say, 'We'll take your charge but you have to pay a bit more for that because you're using your charge,' it's not really conducive to what we want to do for customer service. I think it would really alienate people. I wouldn't like it," August said.

New credit card fees can be charged as part of a lawsuit settlement with some retailers and Visa and MasterCard. Retailers can charge credit card fees from one-and-a-half percent to four percent of the total purchase. But retailers must clearly disclose they are charging the fee at the store entrance, point of sale and on the receipt.

Dave Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, says these customer fees may allow those outside retail to offer the option of taking credit card payments, like a doctor's office or medical facility. But he said he expects most retailers to continue to pay the fees.

"Retailers are not going to do this generally. You will not find the big-box retailers or the grocery stores or the gas stations surcharging for credit card usage," Vite said. "The retail business is very competitive, whether it's drugstores or grocery stores or hardware stores, this competition is out there and putting an extra charge on the bill will not ingratiate themselves with their customers."

To make sure to avoid the fee, pay in cash, or shop retailers who don't charge that credit card checkout fee. And while it is allowable in Illinois, that checkout fee is illegal in ten states; locally it will be up to the individual merchant.