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
  • Wildfires Wildfires

    The huge woods fire in nearby Pennsylvania shows just how much devastation can take place when a blaze breaks out during early spring. In this case, 900 acres of forest — much of it public game land — became engulfed in flames.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restore them Restore them

    There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
    bring these men and women some dignity after death.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Happy Easter

    For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
    The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
     

    April 20, 2014

  • We concur We concur

    We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
    When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Library week

    Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
    movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.

    April 13, 2014