Attorney General William Tong

CT Businesses Cannot Charge Extra for Payment By Credit Card: Officials

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Attorney General William Tong and Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull are reminding residents that Connecticut law does not allow businesses to charge customers a surcharge for using a credit card after a recent increase in complaints.

Local officials said the law does allow a business to offer a discount if a customer chooses to use one type of payment, such as cash, over another type of payment, like a credit card, but receiving the discount is not the same as adding a surcharge.

If the final receipt shows a discount, it complies with Connecticut law.

“Consumers may not realize they cannot be charged extra simply for using their credit card,” Seagull said in a statement. “But it’s important to watch out for these unlawful charges and avoid paying them before it’s too late.”

Tong said that “so-called convenience fees may be common, but they are not legal in Connecticut.”

“We understand they’re under a lot of pressure, but Connecticut families are under a lot of pressure too and it’s not OK to put a surcharge on a credit card just because your business is struggling. Your neighbors and your customers are struggling as well,” Tong said.

Officials said a business cannot list the discounted price for using a preferred payment method in an advertisement and then add a fee during the sale if another payment type is used.

Under the rules, governments are allowed to add a fee onto things like tax bills.

The example they gave is that a menu cannot list the “cash price” for an item, but then charge you a fee if you pay by credit card and if the listed price does not match the price on your receipt, you should remind the business that a surcharge cannot be charged based on your type of payment and seek a refund of the fee.

Tips:

  • Watch out for “transaction fees,” “processing fees,” or “convenience fees.” They might be hidden surcharges.
  • Check the register, the menu, or your bill for a sign or fine print stating that a surcharge will be added if you do not pay with a preferred payment method. Remember, a business may give you a discount for paying by cash, it just cannot charge you a fee if you use a credit card.
  • Ask the cashier, server or other employee whether a surcharge will be charged if you pay with a credit card before you hand your card over.

If you believe a business is unlawfully issuing a surcharge for using a credit card, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5000 or attorney.general@ct.gov or contact the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.complaints@ct.gov.

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