Monday moneyvator: Avoid the debit card “tap and go” fee trap

Monday moneyvator: Avoid the debit card “tap and go” fee trap

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog about how the “tap and go” trap was costing Aussies big time. Fast forward to present day and Aussies are still being stung with fees for the convenience of paying via payWave and PayPass with their debit card.

Why? Well, the reason comes down to the fact that all contactless payments continue to be processed through the credit card network, so the merchant fees that apply to credit cards are also applied to “tap and go” debit card purchases.

Here’s a quick snapshot of just how much some merchants are charging:

Retailer Surcharge
Aldi 0.5% on credit cards and “tap and go” debit/credit
Westfield car parks 2.5% on credit cards and “tap and go” debit/credit
Cabcharge 10% on all cards (including EFTPOS)

Thankfully, there has been some good news for consumers, as surcharging regulation on debit and credit cards kicks in from 1 September this year for large merchants and the same time next year for smaller ones.

These changes mean that merchants will no longer be able to make a profit by hiking up surcharges and will instead only be able to pass on the direct costs (e.g bank fees and terminal costs) of accepting a payment to customers. On top of this, gone are the high flat fees that can come with making payments, as surcharges must be charged as a percentage of the purchase.

While these changes will reduce the cost of surcharges, it’s not the end of fees entirely, so if you want to avoid the “tap and go” trap, here are a few strategies:

1. Pay via EFTPOS: Rather than paying with the convenience of “tap and go” at the checkout and being slugged with a credit card fee, insert your debit card and pay via savings or cheque.

2. Carry cash: While the above tactic generally works, unfortunately some merchants apply a fee for any type of card transaction – especially for transactions under $10. That’s why it’s a wise idea to always carry some cash on you to avoid this bite. Of course, that being said make sure you avoid the ATM fee trap by only withdrawing from your bank’s ATM network.

3. Catch a ride with Uber: If you’re sick of the high surcharges that often come with catching a taxi, there are two things you can do about it. Either take on point 2 and pay with cash or join the Uber community, which generally offers lower fares and provides fee free transactions with the swipe of your phone.

Have you been stung with a “tap and go” fee? Share your story in the comments below…

Monday moneyvator: Avoid the debit card “tap and go” fee trap was last modified: June 29, 2016 by Rebeccah Elley

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8 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Yeah, swipe that card like it’s 1984. Is eftpos completely retro or just a dinosaur ripe for extinction?
    The saving at Aldi is way more than 0.5%. and if you use ING you’re also getting 2% back.

    1. Mozo

      Hi Ben,

      That’s very true, you can definitely save by shopping at Aldi and using debit cards with cash back offers like ING Direct is a smart idea. But why not add to those savings by avoiding extra charges and taking a few seconds to insert your card?