Stores Allowed to Pass Credit Card Fees On to Customers, Effective Today

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Beginning today, store owners in most states—including Idaho—will be able to charge shoppers a surcharge of up to 4 percent of the bill for using a credit card. The change is due to a 2012 U.S. District Court ruling in New York that allowed merchants to pass along fees to customers that credit card issuers charge merchants.

Traditionally, stores pay banks, credit unions and other credit card issuers an amount equivalent to 2 percent of the purchase price when a shopper uses a credit card. But smaller mom-and-pop stores complained that they didn't have the clout to negotiate lower rates and the credit card fees continually cut into their profits.

Beginning today, stores intending to charge customers for paying with credit cards will have to post a sign inside their store (or homepage, if they’re an online retailer). But merchants won't have to disclose how much the fee will be until the point of sale.

The new customer charges are not permitted everywhere: shoppers are off the hook in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.

Shoppers paying with debit cards or American Express cards will also be exempt from the new surcharges.

“In the brick-and-mortar world, no one who does any sort of volume business is going to want to surcharge because it will drive their customer crazy and slow down transactions,” Ed Mierzwinski, director of consumer programs at US PIRG, told NBC News.

But not every store is expected to participate. Some smaller retailers may decide the surcharge is not worth angering customers.

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