Surcharge Free campaign calls on businesses to scrap card fees

UPDATE 27/05/16: The RBA announced yesterday that business merchants will soon no longer be able to surcharge excessively for card payments. The new rules are to come into effect on September 1 when the ACCC will begin enforcing the ban.

An anti card surcharge movement launched today has urged businesses to take a pledge and wipe out plastic surcharging at the checkout in Australia altogether.

“It’s obvious consumers are using cash less and less, so surcharging is becoming less justifiable,” consumer advocate and Surcharge Free spokesperson Christopher Zinn said.

This comes as the RBA’s Payments System Board is expected to set new credit card surcharge limits this week. For instance, reducing the airline booking fees customers are charged for paying with plastic.

“Efficient surcharging should reflect the cost to the merchant....however, evidence of excessive surcharging in some industries has accumulated,” said Assistant RBA Governor Malcolm Edey in a speech on the problem earlier this month.

While Zinn said regulating surcharging is a good thing, he thinks customers should encourage businesses to take the pledge and shop at places that don’t charge more.

“Consumers can get involved and take a stand against this abnormal practice,” he added.

According to an Australian consumer survey last year, more than 90% considered not being surcharged as important to their repeat business.

So far American Express, the National Retail Association, The ICONIC and Coco Republic have signed the Surcharge Free pledge.

Tips to avoid card surcharges:

  • Choose an alternative payment method for travel bookings. According to Debby Soo from KAYAK, POLi, BPAY and Direct Deposit don’t incur fees with Virgin, Jetstar and Air Asia.
  • Bring your EFTPOS card with you next time you shop or dine out. Check with the merchant first, but generally there is no fee for selecting “savings” or “cheque” if the payment is over $10.
  • Ditch taxis for Uber if you don’t carry cash around with you. Taxis have been found to charge as much as 10% on top of the fare for plastic payments, whereas Uber transactions take place within the app free of a surcharge.