03.What can you do about surcharges?
What is an excessive surcharge?
The RBA has said that in most cases the cost to the merchant for accepting a credit card payment should be the merchant service fee plus other direct fees - which RBA data shows are an average of 0.85% for Visa and MasterCard, 1.81% for American Express and 2.08% for Diners Club. So in general any surcharge above these amounts may well be excessive.
What can you do?
Avoid businesses charging a surcharge, especially if it sounds excessive. For example, when making a restaurant booking, ask if they charge a surcharge. If they do, consider going somewhere else and let them know about it.
Use a payment method that’s free.
- Pay cash – some retailers may even give you a discount if you offer to pay cash.
- Use EFTPOS – for retailers, EFTPOS transactions cost less than credit cards and are rarely surcharged.
- BPAY and Pay Anyone – travel industry providers (such as airlines) often allow you to use BPAY or Pay Anyone for free. It usually takes a few days for banks to process these payments, so there are time restrictions on bookings, such as up to eight days before departure by Qantas.
- POLi is one option used by Jetstar, Virgin and other websites. However, one New Zealand bank has expressed security concerns about POLi.
- Some merchants allow fee-free transactions for a specific credit or debit card. It’s not a good idea to get the card just for this purpose – at the very least, consider the annual fees and interest rates associated with the card as well.
Complain to the retailer about the surcharge:
Complain directly to the credit card company and your bank:
Sign our Take Charge petition.