Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

February 18, 2013

Credit fees

Learning about them can help you avoid them

The “checkout fee” some consumers in Maryland will now face when using a credit card is sure to bring confusion, if not consternation.

The fee became effective Jan. 27 and allows merchants to impose a charge of up to 4 percent of the purchase price when customers pay via credit card.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland said retailers pay an average of 2 percent for processing fees.

Larger retailers with national clout are able to negotiate lower rates with banks.

A U.S. District Court ruling now permits the merchant to pass the fee on to customers.

Maryland is now one of 10 states permitting businesses to impose the credit card fee. But the BBB notes that not all merchants are imposing the fee because it is not mandatory.

The BBB has several suggestions for customers who use credit cards for purchases in-store or online:

• Avoid the fee by paying with a debit card. Look for retailers who offer a discount for cash and check purchases.

• The fee is not mandatory. Small local retailers are most likely to take advantage of the checkout fees. National retailers are unable to do so since the ruling stipulates that the fee can only be imposed if all 50 states opt in.

• Look for public notices. The regulations stipulate stores must fully disclose that they are going to add the surcharge by posting a notice at the entrance of the store. However, you may not know how much the fee is until you reach the cash register.

• Online retailers only have to disclose the surcharge when they begin to collect your payment information.

• Different credit cards may have different surcharges. Not all retailers will pass on these fees. Keep up with who is charging what. For example, American Express is not party to this ruling.

• Check your receipt. In Maryland, the retailer cannot charge sales tax on the surcharge. Therefore, the fee is not tacked on until the total price and tax are figured. Disclosure of this fee is required by terms of the new ruling.

As always, it is buyer beware.

Following these BBB suggestions seem to be the best strategy for dealing with a credit card fee that apparently will be a normal practice from now on.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Time to do it Time to do it

    It never made sense that criminal background checks were not made on medical license applications in Maryland. Fortunately — for the protection everybody — the background investigations may soon be a matter of routine.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Get involved Get involved

    Cumberland residents who want to make an impact on their community have an opportunity in that the city is seeking applicants for five of its boards.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • If we don’t sell it to them, somebody else will

    The front page article on coal exports by AP writer Dina Cappiello is one of the most asinine and biased “news” articles I’ve read (“Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad,” July 29 Times-News, Page 1A).

    July 30, 2014

  • Not a villain Not a villain

    Time was that we looked for heroes. Heroes of the make-believe variety have sold a lot of comic books. We also had real-life heroes like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, whose deaths the whole nation mourned.
    These days, we seem to be more interested in looking for villains. “Vote for me because I’m the good guy” has taken a back seat to “Don’t vote for him, because he’s the bad guy.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • About time About time

    Although many Cumberland streets are in need of repair and improvements, the decision by city and county officials to address Greene Street is a good one.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where is it?

    Once upon a time, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce held its annual conventions at the Bedford Springs resort hotel near Bedford, which is in Pennsylvania.

    July 28, 2014

  • Korean War Korean War

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sloppy lawmaking is to blame

    July 27, 2014

  • C-minus grade C-minus grade

    If a survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Kaufman Foundation is an accurate portrayal, Maryland has a long way to go to become a business-friendly state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story