Credit card surcharges – when did it become so acceptable to annoy your customers?

Credit card surcharge

Surcharge – probably not what AMEX had in mind when they gave them free wallets

Should the last think a customer remembers about your business leave a bad taste in their mouth?

Qantas surcharge $30 per ticket

I see, the ticket is actually $30 more than advertised! Can I pop round with cash? No.

Should you pretend your prices are cheaper than they are by smacking your users with a large credit card surcharge when they’re about to buy from you?

It seems increasingly popular amongst bad businesses to surprise the customer with increasingly large surcharges – the above cafe has stuck 3% on by surprise (and illegally as it was not mentioned on the menu) and I found the Mansion Hotel in Melbourne charging 4% for AMEX – my current world record.

Qantas, above, charged $30 per ticket for using credit card – a huge hit and a big extra cost on the price of a ticket.

I’ve also found a number of bars adding card fees to bills without disclosing these – lately The Tilbury and Stitch Bar both adding charges to my receipt without saying anything. Both great places but both getting a mention here because it is annoying.

Companies take note, this is what the [soon to be loyal] customer wants to see:

Virgin trains - no charges

Update 18 January: The SMH published an article today about ticketing service fees which says:

The Reserve Bank of Australia estimated in September the average merchant service fee for MasterCard and Visa is 0.81 per cent of the transaction…
‘The practice of incremental disclosure of additional fees and charges – often referred to as drip pricing – is a key focus,” an ACCC spokeswoman said.
Booking, transaction and service delivery fees are ”credit-card surcharges by another name”, Tom Godfrey of Choice says. He says credit-card surcharges should be capped at less than 1 per cent of a transaction.

Update 22 May – Here’s a guide to whether a credit card charge is illegal or not. It seems they often are.

Leaderboards – I’ll update these when I see a new entry

Largest single credit card charge by $

1st – Qantas $30 x 2 = $60 on one transaction

Largest credit card charge by %

Mansion Hotel & Spa Melbourne – 4% on AMEX

Most honest use of credit card surcharges

Reassuringly, the Australian Federal Police follow the letter and spirit of the law by only passing on the exact charges which gives an insight into what businesses are actually charged Mastercard 0.462%, Visa 0.462% and AMEX 1.595%:

AFP credit card surcharges