DCP Commissioner, AG Tong remind consumers: A business cannot charge customers extra for using a credit card
JANUARY 21, 2021 – Following a recent increase in complaints, Attorney General William Tong and Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull are reminding consumers that Connecticut law prohibits businesses from charging customers a surcharge for using a credit card.
The law does allow a business to offer a discount if a customer chooses to use one type of payment (e.g., cash) over another type of payment (e.g., credit card). Receiving the discount is not the same as adding a surcharge. As long as 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,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “But it’s important to watch out for these unlawful charges and avoid paying them before it’s too late.”
“These so-called convenience fees may be common, but they are not legal in Connecticut. Businesses may offer cash discounts, but they cannot tack on extra fees for using a credit card. Know your rights, and don’t pay more than you should,” said Attorney General Tong.
A business cannot list the discounted price for using a preferred payment method in an advertisement (e.g. menu or price sticker) and then add a fee during the sale if another payment type is used. For example, a menu cannot list the “cash price” for an item, but then charge you a fee if you pay by credit card. 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. It may be helpful to show this webpage to the business.
Ways to protect yourself from unlawful surcharges:
- Watch out for “transaction fees,” “processing fees,” or “convenience fees.” These 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. It is easier to avoid paying the charge than to try to get it refunded.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Department of Consumer Protection at email@example.com.