MasterCard survey shows credit and debit card surcharges cost Aussies $1.6b a year

A Galaxy Research survey commissioned by MasterCard as part of its submission to the Financial Systems Inquiry showed Australians are paying $1.6 billion annually in credit card surcharges.

The study involved 2,000 credit cardholders in Australia and found that on average, Aussies are paying over $130 each per year in surcharges.

MasterCard Australia vice president Brent Thomas said “Australians love the convenience of paying by debit or credit card, but don’t like being slugged extra for using them. 86% of consumers take note of surcharges and factor them into their purchasing decisions.”

Mozo recently revealed that consumers could even be hit with an extra premium for using the “tap and go” card feature for purchases under $100, as it uses the same processing system as credit card payments.

Thomas said "current regulations on surcharges allow merchants to surcharge. Some merchants are surcharging at levels which are really unfair to consumers, and there is effectively no government enforcement around this."

However Tyro Payments suggested the reason so many businesses have recently introduced surcharging is because interchange fees have pushed up the cost of doing business.

Tyro CEO Jost Stollmann said “small and medium sized businesses employ more than seven million Australians and are the engine of jobs growth in this country, yet they are having to compete with financial lead in their saddle bags, courtesy of our major banks.”

“These charges are essentially invisible to the average customer, but in many cases they are passed on to them in the form of a billion dollar surcharging system."

Stollmann said the best option is to ban the interchange fee all together, as Australians move to a cashless society small and medium businesses are pushed to absorb the cost to compete.

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