Over the last few years, as food, labor and property costs have increased, a new trend has emerged to help offset the cost of accepting credit cards called Surcharging. By now, you might have experienced this practice in restaurants and retail stores, but there still lies confusion around the Surcharging rules and who enforces them.
In the State of Wisconsin, it is legal to charge a surcharge to credit cards as long as the customer is notified in writing prior to checking out. It is against card brand rules to add a surcharge to sales completed by debit card, regardless of using the debit card or credit card network. You must also apply the same surcharge amount to all cards and cannot offer a cash discount in conjunction with surcharging. In short, it must be one or the other across the board.
Starting April 15, 2023, Visa will be imposing a maximum of 3% surcharge rule for all credit cards to help recoup some or all of the card processing costs. Visa’s decision to reduce this from 4% to 3% is due in part to an increase in surcharge related violations and confusion around the rules.
What would happen if we chose not to follow card brand rules?
Visa employs secret shoppers as well as a public facing document for violation reporting. If caught, a cease and desist letter is sent, followed by fines up to $10,000 PER OCCURENCE. If the business or business owner continually repeats the offense, Visa can remove their ability to accept Visa cards permanently.
If you are currently surcharging, ensure your point of sale can detect debit vs credit cards so that a surcharge is not mistakenly added to a debit card. Also, ensure that your surcharge does not exceed 3% to the customer.
Finally, update your in store and/or menu signage to reflect this change and create transparency for the customer.
Special thanks to Heartland Payment Systems for providing this information.