Consumer Protection

How to Protect Yourself: Credit Card Surcharges

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


When you use a credit card to pay for goods or services the merchant is charged a fee by the credit card company. These “interchange fees,” also called “swipe fees,” are often calculated as a percentage of the amount you purchase. Some merchants may choose to recoup these fees by adding a surcharge to your purchase.

Are credit card surcharges legal?

Yes, except in some states with laws that prohibit credit card surcharges. Florida has a law prohibiting credit card surcharges, but that law was held unconstitutional by federal courts. Therefore, merchants in Florida may add a surcharge to credit card purchases.

Can businesses charge whatever they want as a surcharge?

No, major credit card companies have rules that limit the amount a merchant can add to a customer’s credit card purchase but typically prohibit businesses from charging more than their actual cost for processing credit card transactions.

Can businesses apply a surcharge to debit card transactions?

Under federal regulations credit card issuers can only receive fees for debit card transactions of up to 21 cents, plus 0.05 percent multiplied by the value of the transaction, plus 1 cent for fraud prevention. As a result, most credit card companies prohibit merchants from surcharging debit card transactions.

Are businesses required to disclose a credit card surcharge?

Yes. Credit card surcharges must be disclosed before purchase. Most credit card companies require merchants to disclose credit card surcharges in online transactions, on a sign at the store’s point of entry and point of sale, and on the receipt. Additionally, any undisclosed fees may constitute an unfair or deceptive trade practice prohibited by Florida law.

File a complaint.

If you are charged an undisclosed fee you can report it to our office by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or at www.MyFloridaLegal.com. You may also report it to your credit card company.