If you’re a business owner looking to offset some of the costs of processing credit cards, you’re not alone. Credit card processing fees can be an expensive budgetary cost for businesses. That’s why many business owners have been looking into credit card surcharging. Surcharging customers’ credit cards is the process of passing along the processing fee if they elect to use a credit card in lieu of other payment types.
That fee will cover the price of processing the credit card payment, and is usually small enough to not bother most customers. If it does bother them, they can choose a different payment method (cash, check, debit). You may ask, “If it’s so easy, then why aren’t more business owners doing it?” Here are a few considerations:
- How will my customers react?
- Will I lose sales by surcharging?
- What are my competitors doing?
Also, if you do decide to partake in credit card surcharging, there are requirements that you need to make sure your business meets before starting.
What is the Credit Card Surcharging Requirements?
- You can never surcharge in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma.
- Your surcharge cannot be more than 4% of the original purchase amount.
- Your surcharge cannot be more than your payment processing fees.
- Surcharges are allowed on credit cards only, not on debit cards – this includes debit with and without a pin code (It doesn’t matter if the customer selects “credit” at the time of purchase. If the card has “debit” printed on the front, then you can’t surcharge it)
- Surcharge rate awareness signage must be clearly posted in front of store and at checkout.
- Cardholder must accepts the total price (including the surcharge amount) at the checkout.
- Surcharge amount must appear as a separate line item on the customer receipts.
- Merchants must notify their processor they will be surcharging and register with the card brands at least 30 days before first surcharge.
Keep This in Mind
Above are the rules of surcharging you’ll have to abide by everywhere you go. However, there are additional considerations in specific circumstances.
Problem: Some terminals or point of sale systems won’t recognize the difference between a credit card or debit card. The business is still responsible for ensuring a debit card is not surcharged.
Solution: Ask your merchant services representative if your surcharging settings are properly set up. If they aren’t, you or they will have to update them in your payment gateway or point of sale settings. If this still cannot be done, you’ll need to train your staff to visually inspect the card to see id “debit” is printed on the front, and then manually bypass the surcharge. As you might expect, this alternative is subject to human errors.
Problem: Customers do not often inform employees of their card type during over-the-phone orders. Surcharging a debit card can result in a hefty fine even in these accidental circumstances.
Solution: Train your employees to always ask the card type during a phone transaction.
These 44 states allow businesses to surcharge their customers: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming