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The Complete Guide To Credit Card Surcharging: Guidelines For Visa, Mastercard, American Express, & More

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Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl has been writing about merchant services, payment gateways, and international money transfer services since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate from the Ventura College of Law. After a long and enjoyable career of traveling around the world as an Air Force navigator, he’s comfortably settled down in the wine country town of Paso Robles in California’s scenic Central Coast region. He enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and numerous other outdoor pursuits.
Frank Kehl

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68 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Thomasa Roberts

    The quick stop store, charges a debt fee of $0.35 cents, plus a charge $1.00 for cash back. They scan a lotto ticket for a dollar , to cover the $1.00 fee. Is this legal?

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Thomasa,
      I don’t think we can give a definitive answer to your question, as every state that has its own lottery has its own rules governing them. It might be legal in one state, but not another. It does sound kind of fishy, though, since it’s unlikely that a merchant can legally force a customer to buy a lottery ticket.

        Marty

        Regarding the State of Maine, if I understand correctly there is a law on the books that prohibits surcharges. However, similar to New York, if disclosure is made to the cardholder about the costs in dollars and cents of the surcharge, then the law is unenforceable. Is that correct? Is there a ruling or documentation to support this? just want to make sure we have support for whatever decision we make.

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Marty,

          Maine Rev.Stat §8-509 expressly prohibits merchants from surcharging. The statute does, however, allow government entities to surcharge. It was also amended in 2017 to expressly allow cash discounting. Many sources we found all seem to agree that this statute was recently overturned by a court decision, and surcharging is now effectively legal in Maine. This appears to be a very recent decision (probably within the last year), and the Maine legislature hasn’t amended the statute to reflect this decision yet. Our recommendation would be to implement a cash discounting program instead, which the statute allows. Customers are far understandably more supportive of getting cash back at checkout than they are about having to pay an extra fee.

            Sam

            In reference to this area: For Visa and Mastercard, you can choose to apply brand-level surcharges (e.g., all Visa cards) or product-level surcharges (only certain lines of cards). However, you cannot do both.

            Does “product-levels” refer to reward cards? I was confused by this.

            What is the best way for a merchant to recoup costs for the majority of transactions coming from debit cards if we cannot add a surcharge, do discounts for paying in cash?

            What is the best way for a merchant to identify if a debit card is coming through? Will the processor able to identify that and add a $0.00 processing fee? I can’t seem to find this info as I was reading your document.

            This information was very clearly outlined and very helpful! Thanks for pulling it together for us.

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Sam,

              Surcharging is never allowed on debit card purchases, even when the card is run as a credit card purchase. If you have your merchant services provider set you up with either surcharging or cash discounting, they’ll modify the software on your processing hardware to automatically identify the type of card being used and apply the surcharge/discount, as appropriate. The same goes for your payment gateway for eCommerce sales.

                Emily

                Do you have any resources I can see, regarding the claim that Maine’s surcharging law being unenforceable due to recent court decisions? All I can find is the current anti-surcharging law on the State of Maine site, and a bill that was introduced to overturn that but it failed (in 2017/2018). Any info would be great. Thanks!

                  Jessica Dinsmore

                  Hi Emily,
                  Maine Rev.Stat §8-509 expressly prohibits merchants from surcharging. The statute does, however, allow government entities to surcharge. It was also amended in 2017 to expressly allow cash discounting. Many sources we found all seem to agree that this statute was recently overturned by a court decision, and surcharging is now effectively legal in Maine. This appears to be a very recent decision (probably within the last year), and the Maine legislature hasn’t amended the statute to reflect this decision yet.

                    Kasealee Pheonix

                    I’d it legal in Vermont to apply a”non cash adjustment” to bank debit cards even if the function as credit cards as well?

                      Jessica Dinsmore

                      Hi Kasealee,
                      Cash discounting and surcharging are both legal in Vermont, but can only be applied to credit cards. Neither are allowed for debit cards, even when the card is being run as a credit card.

                        Emma

                        So does every business that wants to start surcharging need to submit the “Merchant Surcharge Form” to Visa and MasterCard if we intend to surcharge those credit cards?
                        We are a manufacturer/resale company and wondered if this is only a requirement for the credit card processing companies.

                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                          Jessica Dinsmore

                          Hi Emma,

                          If a business wants to impose a surcharge on credit card transactions, it needs to notify the card brands just once before it implements the policy. After that, no further notice to the brands is required. But you will need to make sure your credit card processing company sets you up to correctly document the surcharge as a line item on the receipt.

                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                            David Richie

                            Do the rules regarding surcharges and convenience fees differ depending on whether the card holder purchasing the product or service is a consumer as opposed to a business?

                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                              Jessica Dinsmore

                              Hi David,

                              There’s nothing to stop you from applying a surcharge to B2B transactions, but if the cost of the transaction is a concern, consider switching to a low-cost ACH option or see if your provider is giving you the absolute lowest interchange rates you qualify for. With regard to consumer transactions — you can look at alternative payments, a better provider, or consider switching to a cash discount or zero-fee processing setup if you’re concerned about cost. Just be aware that you do have to post a notice, and your customers may (or may not) be receptive–you’ll know better than anyone how they’ll respond.

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                Ray B

                                I work for a Wholesale Distributor in NYS. We have a wide variety of customers. Are we allowed to charge some customers a cc surcharge and not charge others?

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                  Hi Ray,

                                  Generally, if a surcharge is going to be implemented, it must be applied equally. The card associations will not be too happy if they see you are charging some customers and not others.

                                  Section 3.2 of American Express’s merchant guide, “treatment of the American Express brand,” says that merchants cannot “impose any restrictions, conditions, disadvantages, or fees when the Card is accepted that are not imposed equally on all Other Payment Products, except for electronic funds transfer, or cash and check,” among other rules.

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Melissa Durr

                                    From what I read, it looks to me that a merchant can not impose a “square fee” when using a debit card for payment. Is this correct? I ask because I have a merchant who charged me for a “square fee” on a debit card payment.

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                      Hi Melissa,

                                      You are correct. Merchants can’t charge a surcharge on any debit card, even if it’s backed by credit and has a Visa/MasterCard logo. However, not everyone is aware of this fact, especially because Square doesn’t have a debit processing option. All those debit cards are processed as credit. So, the merchant likely is unaware of this and is not doing it with malicious intent.

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        Chris

                                        Are these “transaction fees” or “surcharges” taxable? Where are the line items supposed to be placed on the receipts? Do they go under the subtotal and above tax, or do they go below tax and get assessed after taxes?

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                          Hi Chris,
                                          Your questions would be best answered by your processor so they can help you implement a system for surcharging.

                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                            Tammy Jones

                                            Hello,

                                            Is Florida a state where it’s prohibited to charge a credit card fee?

                                            Thank you for your help.

                                            Tammy

                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                              Hi Tammy,

                                              Here’s an excerpt from the post that should answer your question:

                                              States where “No-Surcharge” laws have been found unconstitutional and are enjoined from being enforced:

                                              California
                                              Florida
                                              Texas
                                              If your business operates in one of these states, it’s illegal to impose a surcharge.

                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                Olga *

                                                When we talk about “If your business operates in one of these states, it’s illegal to impose a surcharge” is it the state where I am shipping the product or the state where I am going to send a bill or my warehouse state or my back office state. These are all 4 different states

                                                By the way was paying for my speeding ticket at the court and they charged a credit card fee the other day. I live in Texas. So is it legal or illegal?

                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                  Hi Olga,

                                                  Operating out of multiple states makes it complicated. We would suggest contacting a lawyer or accountant or even the state to clarify.

                                                  As for the second question — what you paid was likely a convenience fee, not a surcharge. Those are governed by entirely different rules and laws.

                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                    Ken

                                                    Very nice article. I used to be up on this, but lost track over the years.

                                                    A restaurant near me started imposing the surcharge at 4%, which is the maximum. How do I know that’s really their costs and not just taking as much as they can? If it were 3.6% I wouldn’t give it a second thought, but the max makes me leery.

                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                      Hi Ken,

                                                      No need to be leery! Some restaurants could easily have that 4% effective rate depending on the type of cards they process and their provider.

                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                        Amy

                                                        Can you please clarify the laws in NY State now that it is legal to surcharge here? There is some confusion on whether or not the signage needs to be different from state to state and if there are any additional policies in place for New York. Thank you!

                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                          Hi Amy,

                                                          Here is an excerpt from this post that should answer your question:

                                                          “Two states require additional disclosures to surcharge credit card processing fees: Maine and New York. In both cases, you must post both the cost of paying with cash and the cost of paying with a card, using dollars and cents. This is on top of the requirements of Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, which require you to post notifications at the point of sale and specify the amount of the surcharge.”

                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                            Matt Crea

                                                            We are looking to implement surcharging. How do we determine the rate allowed to charge. Since our transactions have so many different program pricing’s is it simply the lowest interchange rate charged by any of the companies?(ours range from 2.95% to 2.1%) Can we average in Card brand fees and dues and our Gateway/Other Fees? Our overall effective rate we’re charged is 3.32%. I’m inclined to believe that to be safe w cant charge higher than 2%, but I have seen our suppliers charging rates as high as 5% which I can’t believe is in line with their agreements from what your article has said.

                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                              Emily Hale

                                                              Hi, Matt!

                                                              Thanks for reading and for your question. Here’s what Melissa explains in her post, and hopefully this clears it up for you:

                                                              Surcharge amounts are limited to your effective rate for credit card transactions, capped at 4%. In other words, you can’t profit from surchages; you can only recoup your baseline costs.
                                                              The maximum surcharge amount allowed is 4% of the total transaction amount. However, merchants should be calculating their surcharge based on their effective rate — that is, the total amount of fees incurred for accepting credit cards, averaged out per transaction. The effective rate can be based on either the previous 12 months or the month prior. Your effective rate for Visa and Mastercard transactions should be more in the range of 2.5-3% depending on your processor’s markup and your volume. (If your effective rate is much higher or it exceeds the cap of 4%, it’s probably time to switch payment processors.)

                                                              Does that answer your question? Hope this helps.

                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                TRACY NOLAN

                                                                Can you charge a surcharge fee on freight and sales tax? In other words the total amount of the bill or is it just the “product” being purchased. Our business is in Wisconsin.
                                                                Thank you!
                                                                Tracy M Nolan

                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                  Emily Hale

                                                                  Hi, Tracy!

                                                                  Thanks for your question. Credit card processing fees are taken out before anything else — so surcharging can be used to cover the portion of sales tax and shipping that get eaten by processing fees, as well as the actual purchase. Just bear in mind that you’re limited to a max 4% surcharge. I hope that clears things up for you.

                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                    Stefany

                                                                    Hello would like to know if in New Jersey is ban to charge a surcharge on the total amount of the service.
                                                                    Thank you!

                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                      Emily Hale

                                                                      Hi Stefany,

                                                                      New Jersey does not ban the practice of adding a surcharge. Hope this helps!

                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                        Francis

                                                                        Hello Lisa,

                                                                        Do you have a list of companies that provide zero fee credit card processing (surcharging) services, similar to CardX?

                                                                        Thanks!

                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                          Hi Francis,

                                                                          We do have an article on this topic, though no list at this time. Best of luck!

                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                            Shelley Charlton

                                                                            Hi Melissa,

                                                                            I a an ISO direct with FD. You should know that in performing the compliance process which can take months. They will not allow you to take any Debit Cards (Pin or Otherwise) and they say you must turn off Amex because fo the playing field not being level. I am not sure how other processors handle the compliance process piece. But the whole process has become so discouraging most of my merchants attempting to doit just give up. This is all due to the fact that they are giving up the possibility of more revenue that outweighs the discount.

                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                              Brian

                                                                              Melissa,
                                                                              1. Can I charge a 4% surcharge regardless if it is a swipe or keyed credit card transaction?
                                                                              2. How do I determine if they are using a credit card or debit card?

                                                                              Brian

                                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                Hi Brian,

                                                                                Thanks for your questions! To answer your first question, Visa allows surcharging at the brand level (all visa products) or at a product level (a surcharge for, say, business rewards cards). The actual surcharge amount needs to be posted at the point of sale. So transaction type (swiped or keyed) would not factor in here.

                                                                                Second, as for debit or credit cards, this is exactly what Visa rules say:
                                                                                “Merchants with Acceptance Devices that offer Cardholder choice for debit Transactions in the form of “credit” and “debit” buttons must ensure that:
                                                                                – Visa debit Card Transactions are not assessed a US Credit Card Surcharge
                                                                                – It is made clear to the Cardholder that surcharges are not permitted on debit Transactions regardless whether a Cardholder selects the “credit” or “debit” button”

                                                                                So from that, it’s clear that if the card says “debit” on it, you can’t charge a credit card surcharge even if the customer processes it at a credit card rather than entering a PIN. The Surcharge rules start on page 378. I hope that helps!

                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                  Linda

                                                                                  I work for Broker of credit cards. If we have information on an ISO signing up businesses with no 30 day notice to card brands and charge 4% on all cards including debit cards, how do we submit the information to Visa/MC?

                                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                    Hi Linda,

                                                                                    Our understanding is that you can report it via the Visa and Mastercard websites, or you can even call Visa directly or send a written report. Alternatively you might be able to report them to consumer financial protection bureau.

                                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                      Michielle

                                                                                      Several of our vendors in Florida and Texas who accept credit cards charge us a percentage of the total as a surcharge if we pay by card instead of a check or other method. Are they allowed to do this? I haven’t been able to figure out of the ban in these states is valid or not, so have been hesitant to call the vendors our on this.

                                                                                      Thanks.

                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                        Hi Michielle!

                                                                                        According to Visa:

                                                                                        “Q. Is a merchant allowed to add a surcharge to the purchase amount for using a Visa card?

                                                                                        A. In general, no. Surcharging is currently permitted in Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand, and on certain credit card transactions in the U.S.

                                                                                        Surcharging isn’t allowed everywhere in the U.S. Currently, there are laws limiting surcharging in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. California’s and New York’s laws limiting surcharging have been enjoined from enforcement pursuant to court orders, but appeals are pending. An order upholding Florida’s law limiting surcharging was reversed on appeal, but remains subject to further litigation. Consumers who are subjected to a surcharge in states where they may be prohibited from surcharging may want to report the retailer to their state attorney general’s office.”

                                                                                        I hope that answers your question. Best!

                                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                          Adam Weddle

                                                                                          With the regulation that surcharges cannot exceed 4%, how are local government agencies getting away with charging flat fee ‘surcharges’, eg. $10 for all police citations? In come cases that may be less than 4%, but significantly more in others. Aren’t they held to the same standards?

                                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                            Hi Adam,

                                                                                            They’re likely passing them off as convenience fees, which have different regulations. You can read about this here.

                                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                              Steve Washburn

                                                                                              We have a local restaurant that is charging a flat 69 cent surcharge on credit cards and debit cards. This fee is charged irregardless of the total amount charged. This can equate to a 8-10% fee on a small meal. Is this allowed or legal?

                                                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                Hi Steve,

                                                                                                Without knowing where you are located, it is really hard to say. Generally, surcharges are supposed to be capped at 4%, however, if they’re passing it as a convenience fee, it might technically be acceptable, but I believe they should be capped at the processing amount.

                                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                  Justin

                                                                                                  Has anything come of the New York case? Are all states allowed to now process surcharges? We recently started a surcharge program at our restaurant. It has been testing… Not all people are generally excepting whether they are told before purchase or not.

                                                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                    Hi Justin,

                                                                                                    There is a recent post in the Lexology library titled: NY’s Highest Court Will Consider Credit Card Surcharge Ban. That may have the info you are looking for. Hope that helps!

                                                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                      Stephan

                                                                                                      Hi,

                                                                                                      Great article, thank you. I have a real life example for you. I live in Kansas in an apartment complex. Until very recently, the management were charging fees to pay rent using credit card. They now have stopped us from paying by credit card claiming that a “new” law was passed in Kansas prohibiting them from charging fees for credit card use. I looked into this and it appears this law is not “new” at all, it has been here for many years. Does this mean my apartment community has been breaking the law for a long time and have potentially stolen thousands of dollars from renters like me? If yes, what do they risk and what can we do to rectify the wrong that was done?

                                                                                                      Thank you,

                                                                                                      Stephane

                                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                        Melissa Johnson

                                                                                                        Hi, Stephan!

                                                                                                        There’s a lot of details I’m missing, so unfortunately I can’t give you a solid answer. It certainly sounds like your apartment complex might have gotten called out for some dodgy behavior. However, keep in mind it may not actually be your apartment complex doing the payment processing. They might have a white-label setup powered by someone who handles the transactions anonymously. And they might have switched processors, or gotten new (smarter) management, which could contribute to the change in policy. I certainly think it’s possible that your complex management could and would lie about the reasoning to mitigate any sort of negative fallout with residents.

                                                                                                        The problem is that while surcharges are banned, convenience fees aren’t. As a fellow Kansas resident, I have paid a LOT of convenience fees for online payments (especially for utility bills). My apartment complex charges a convenience fee for credit transactions and uses a separate processor to accept e-checks.

                                                                                                        I can’t find specifics on what to do in Kansas if you suspect that you’re paying an illegal surcharge but I do know that generally speaking if a company gets caught violating card association rules or local laws, they could potentially have their merchant account terminated, making them unable to accept cards unless they can find another processor willing to take them on. (Effectively, that means you’d have to drop a check off in person every month instead of paying online.) If you’re genuinely really concerned, talk to a local consumer advocacy group or the state’s attorney general, and see if there’s anything that can be done. But otherwise, as a fellow consumer, I advise always paying with ACH/bank accounts where you can!

                                                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                          Terry

                                                                                                          I work at a preschool. We are supposed to begin adding a surcharge to credit card users at the school. We will be using a credit card processing company called CardX. Are they responsible for notifying the credit card company of our intention? Has anyone used them? This seems to be more complicated than they made it sound over the phone.

                                                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                            Hi Terry,
                                                                                                            Unfortunately, we have not reviewed CardX Processing, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other, that being said, I suggest contacting them directly. Best of luck to you!

                                                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                              Phil

                                                                                                              My company accepts all credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discovery and, American Express). We use PayPal as our credit card processor. We would like to add a handling fee to help offset some of the expense of the PayPal fees. We are located in South Carolina, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma and sell in various other states. Would this be appropriate?

                                                                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                Hi Phil,
                                                                                                                Per their user agreement, it appears that it would not be appropriate.

                                                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                  Chad Smith

                                                                                                                  Hey Phil,
                                                                                                                  I work with a company that has a program that allows you to share or pass on all of the card fees to your customers. Card Payment Solutions is based in Florence, SC and we would be more than happy to explain how this can benefit your company. You can contact someone through the website, or you can also contact me at chad.cpsolutions@gmail.com or by phone at (864)293-9733. I’m not sure what part of SC you have locations, but I am based out of Greenville and would be happy to meet with someone if they are in the upstate. Hope this helps!

                                                                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                    Patty Hall

                                                                                                                    I wondered it a surcharge can be levied for certain types of transactions but not others. In other words, if you charge a surcharge for one thing to you have to charge it for everything?

                                                                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                      Melissa Johnson

                                                                                                                      Hi, Patty!

                                                                                                                      You can’t pick and choose which products or types of transactions to add a surcharge for, unfortunately. What you can choose is whether to surcharge at the brand level (all Visa transactions, which means all MasterCard and all Discover cards, and therefore all American Express cards), or at a card level — only particular kinds of cards (namely those with higher fees). However, surcharging at the card level seems a bit complicated to me because all of the networks’ surcharging rules are linked. Visa and MasterCard’s are identical, for example. American Express basically says you can’t add a surcharge ONLY for Amex cards (Which would discourage customers from using those cards).

                                                                                                                      I recommend checking out Visa’s Q&A on surcharging. It’s helpful, though it’s by no means comprehensive.

                                                                                                                      https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/download/merchants/surcharging-faq-by-merchants.pdf

                                                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                        Mira

                                                                                                                        “If your business operates in multiple states, you can still add a surcharge in states that allow the practice — just not in the ones with bans.”

                                                                                                                        Is there case law or some other authority to support the above?

                                                                                                                        Thanks.

                                                                                                                        -M

                                                                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                          Melissa Johnson

                                                                                                                          Hi, Mira!

                                                                                                                          The best source is actually the card networks, since they set the guidelines.

                                                                                                                          From Visa’s Surgcharging Q&A for Merchants:

                                                                                                                          “Q. I operate stores in multiple states. I understand that state laws prohibit me from
                                                                                                                          surcharging in some states where I operate, but not others – does that mean I can’t
                                                                                                                          surcharge in any of the states where I operate?

                                                                                                                          No. If a merchant is prohibited from surcharging in one state, Visa’s rules do not prevent the
                                                                                                                          merchant from surcharging in other states that allow the practice. ”

                                                                                                                          https://usa.visa.com/dam/VCOM/download/merchants/surcharging-faq-by-merchants.pdf

                                                                                                                          Hope this helps!

                                                                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                            Samuel Smith

                                                                                                                            Tovi,

                                                                                                                            I wouldn’t think that surcharging a donation is a good idea. The benefactor is already giving probably at the level they are comfortable with. I would think that surcharging would hurt donations more than the offset of fees.
                                                                                                                            I personally know people that will leave a smaller tip when they are surcharged because they feel like the surcharge is already on top of the price, just like a tip.

                                                                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                              Phil T

                                                                                                                              I have a Visa debit card. The merchant charges a surcharge on my card saying they record it as a credit not a debit. They say they don’t accept debit payments. Is this legal?

                                                                                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                Phil,
                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer to this question. If you happen to figure it out, please let us know as it will help our other readers.

                                                                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                  Gavi

                                                                                                                                  HI Phil,

                                                                                                                                  This is not legal for the merchant to do on the surcharge program. It would put them in violation of the surcharge rules. The person who is really at fault is the credit card processing company. In order for the debit to be recorded as debit and not credit, the processing company would have to enable that function on the terminal.
                                                                                                                                  Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

                                                                                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                    Tovi

                                                                                                                                    Hello,

                                                                                                                                    What are your findings on Non-Profit organizations charging a Surcharge for donations?

                                                                                                                                    Thanks!

                                                                                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                      Tovi, we’ve never heard of such a thing, but if you can find us some examples, we’d love to see them.

                                                                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                        lisa

                                                                                                                                        Does the Colorado ban impact both the buyer and the seller? If my business is HQ in a state permitted to surcharge, can I put a surcharge on an e-commerce sale being shipped to a customer in Colorado?

                                                                                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                                                                          Melissa Johnson

                                                                                                                                          Hi, Lisa!

                                                                                                                                          Surcharging is allowed on CNP (eCommerce transactions), provided you follow all of the other requirements. However, commerce in general is governed by individual states, so the laws and requirements vary. I can’t find any specifics about surcharging across borders as you’ve indicated. I recommend talking with an accountant or lawyer to make sure you are absolutely clear on what you can and cannot do.

                                                                                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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