You know I like to save money, so I was a little disturbed by this news. You may be charged an extra fee when you use your credit card – both in stores and online. I don’t want to confuse you, because there are a lot of “if’s, and’s or but’s”. Where do I start? I want to explain this as clearly as possible.
- This will affect your credit cards not your debit cards.
- This will affect your Visa and MasterCard, but not your American Express card.
- This may only affect your online purchases if you live in, or are visiting, an exempt state. Check the list on consumer-action.org
Why the extra fee?
Because merchants are tired of footing the bill for credit card fees. They get charged up to 4% for every credit card transaction, and that eats into their profits. If they’re a small retailer, it can really hurt their bottom line. They want to make it convenient for you to buy, but the fees can be painful and costly.
What are the rules?
- They can’t charge you more than they’re charged. If they pay 1.45% on every credit card purchase, they can’t add more than 1.45% to your bill.
- The charges must be clearly posted – in store and online. Look around and be sure to read the small print on checkout. If you’re not sure – ask!
My thoughts on the new fees
I’m not going to stop using my credit cards. Sure, I live in an exempt state, but that’s not why. It’s because I don’t use my cards for everyday purchases so the fees won’t affect my budget in a big way. You know I recommend using cash and debit cards for daily expenses because it will help you stay on budget.
Why shouldn’t we be outraged? Swiping a card is an easy way to pay, but it’s not magic. A lot work takes place in the background – work that must be paid for. Convenience always has a price.
Is it ever worth it to pay the fee?
I think so. I want the added protection offered by credit card companies. I know they will assist me if a company doesn’t make good (like if they go out of business). For me, the choice to decline rental car insurance when I travel far outweighs the cost of the surcharge. I’ll continue to use them for online purchases as well. Credit cards offer added protections for misrepresented and/or never received merchandise. For me, that’s worth it (in certain circumstances.) Some credit card benefits / rewards outweigh the fee.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to make informed choices that are right for you. Like me, you may decide to keep using your cards, but only in certain circumstances.