It's Your Money: New credit card fees

Posted at: 01/25/2013 5:00 PM
Updated at: 01/25/2013 5:27 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Using a credit card online could soon cost you more money. A new law now gives retailers the green light to charge you a fee just for using your card. That change takes effect this Sunday. You could end up paying as much as 4 percent more for purchases.

News10NBC wanted to know how this will affect you. We found out there is some good news, but maybe some bad news too. The good news is New York is among 10 states that prohibit retailers from levying a surcharge. But what does it mean for online shoppers and if you shop outside of new york state?

Right now, when you pay with a credit card the banks charge the retailer a fee. Historically, retailers haven't been allowed to pass that fee on to consumers. But retailers filed a lawsuit against several major banks and a judge ruled retailers can now pass those fees on to you starting Sunday. While New York prohibits it, it's too soon to tell if online retailers in other states will honor this statute.

Bethanie Mason, Hilton resident, said, “I'm a big online shopper sometime and I might be stopping that soon because I can't afford it.”

Bethanie Mason of Hilton says she will think long and hard about any online purchases. She says she loves the savings, but now wonders after Sunday's credit card changes, if she will save shopping outside of New York State.

Mason said, “There's a particular store I shop in that only sell lingerie in the store and if you want to buy their clothing you have to buy it online. So it kind of stops people from shopping there I they know there's going to be a percentage more they have to pay.”

This new fee is the result of a lawsuit. A settlement between retailers and several major banks including Visa and Mastercard paves the way for retailers to charge you a fee for the priviledge of using your credit card.

Lynette Baker, CCCS of Rochester, said, “The law now says the retailer can pass on that surcharge to their customers and it could be anywhere from 1.5 to 4 percent of the purchase price.”

So if you shop online or shop outside New York State, this will affect you. It could mean as much as $4 for every $100 you spend. News10NBC asked Lynette Baker of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester how you can avoid these fees.

News10NBC's Lynette Adams said, “Do you have any advice for people who do a lot of online shopping.

Baker said, “I'm not sure if you live in NY if they can charge those fees for online shopping. In general, if you can use cash, use it. We always say that anyway to people as oppose to racking up credit card debt. Then you're only spending what you have. This does not apply to debit cards. So you can use you debit card in place of your credit card and avoid the surcharges.”

So what should you do if cash isn't an option or your traveling?

Baker said, “Travel with your debit card and again, some retailers may charge you. Do comparison shopping.”

Adams said, “You think it's one more thing that's being lumped on consumers?”

Linda Marshall, of Greece, said, “If you purchase something online it may appear much cheaper. It might be good for business.”

Baker also says all retailers. including those online have to disclose this fee before you check out.  She also advises you to check with your bank to make sure there's not a fee for using your debit card.

10 states have outlawed surcharges. They are Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, Connecticut, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, California and Colorado. So if you travel to those areas or shop with online retailers in those states, you may not see these new surcharges.