Card associations have strict rules and regulations regarding merchant convenience fees. Surcharges are absolutely prohibited! Charging customers for using credit cards in a retail situation could have your merchant account terminated.
Here are the mandates for charging a convenience fee (in a non-card present situation).
1. Disclosure of fee to customers.
2. Non-face to face transaction. Retail businesses cannot charge a convenience fee.
3. Flat or fixed amount, regardless of bill amount.
4. Fee is applied to all forms of payment accepted in the alternative payment channel.
5. Convenience fees cannot be added to recurring transactions.
6. Third party’s are barred from charging a convenience fee.
7. Customer’s must be given a chance to cancel the transaction prior to completion of transaction.
8. Convenience fees cannot be advertised as an offset to the cost of processing credit cards.
Retail merchants are clearly prohibited from charging convenience fees to customers. However, they are allowed to offer a cash discount to those customers paying with cash. The discount would be given to those customers paying with cash, and would be clearly disclosed as a “discount” compared to the regular price. Merchants offering cash discounts must be sure they are obeying all applicable laws and regulations.