Retailers can now charge swipe fees back to customers

Starting yesterday, you may have paid a bit more at your local retailer to use your credit card … or maybe not.

As of Sunday, merchants in most U.S. states have the option of tacking on an extra fee to credit card transactions to help cover the fees that card companies charge to retailers, commonly known as swipe fees. Stores can charge up to four per cent for credit card purchases, but must notify customers before processing the payment.

The move is a result of a 2005 lawsuit filed against credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, and some card-issuing financial institutions. A court ruling gave merchants the green light to recoup some of their costs.

What remains to be seen is whether stores will be quick to slap on the extra fees, having to weigh the need to cover costs with the possibility of turning off customers, which could cost even more money in the long run.

Read more about credit card swipe fee issues facing North American businesses.