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Visa, MasterCard Modify Rules to Allow Surcharging by Merchants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Big changes could be on the way for consumers who pay with credit cards. In response to the proposed $7.2-billion swipe fee deal, Visa Inc. and MasterCard revealed they will change their rules to allow merchants to begin charging consumers a surcharge.

According to the merchant servicing company, the Visa surcharge requirements include:

  • A number of states do not currently allow surcharge fees.
  • Visa requires all merchants to register 30 days prior to charging extra fees. A notification form must be completed and submitted to Visa and the merchant's processor.
  • A surcharge fee must not exceed the processing cost of the transaction or 4 percent, whichever is less.
  • Visa allows surcharging on credit cards only; surcharging on other card types such as pin debit and check cards is prohibited.
  • The surcharge fee must apply equally to all card brands.
  • Merchants need full disclosure when applying a surcharge. Signage will need to be posted at the point of entry as well as a line item on the POS receipt.
  • POS manufacturers will need to complete a software certification in order to support the surcharge requirements. New software versions certified to process a surcharge are expected to be available starting mid-2013.

Point-of-sale software must support the surcharge because a manual surcharge key is prohibited, according to Digital Financial Group. In addition, the processing networks need to develop the specifications required to be within the mandated Visa compliance rules, the firm added.

Visa and MasterCard had previously prohibited merchants from charging extra fees to consumers paying with credit cards. However, a settlement reached this past July to bring an end to a 2005 class-action lawsuit would allow the surcharge, as CSNews Online previously reported.

The surcharge will help merchants recoup the swipe fees they have to pay every time a consumer pays with a credit card.

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