Dear Consumer Ed:
Is it legal for merchants in Georgia to charge a fee for the use of a debit card (NOT a credit card)?
Consumer Ed says:
A merchant may charge a flat fee called a “convenience fee” to buyers who choose to use an electronic payment method (like a credit or debit card), but only if the merchant also provides a direct payment option by check, cash, or money order where no convenience fee is charged. The merchant is also required by law to disclose the charging of a convenience fee prior to the transaction and to include in the notice 1) the dollar amount of the fee, 2) a statement that the fee is nonrefundable, and 3) a statement that the fee is charged for payments by electronic means.
For credit card transactions, merchants are also permitted to charge customers a “surcharge,” which is typically a 1% to 4% extra charge. This additional charge is typically added to recover the cost of the processing fee that the merchant pays to the card issuing company (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, etc.). Generally, if a merchant is adding a surcharge, they should post a sign or notify the customer about the added surcharge and state the percentage. Again, surcharges may only be added to credit card transactions, and it is not legal to do so in every state.