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Credit card surcharge ban comes into force

Credit card surcharge ban comes into force

Category: Credit cards
15/01/2018

Consumers should no longer be charged extra for paying by debit or credit card after new rules banning so-called 'surcharges' finally came into force across the EU.

As of 13 January, it has become unlawful for retailers to charge additional fees when someone uses a particular debit or credit card, or other payment systems like PayPal, to make a purchase.

So-called 'surcharging' had become commonplace, particularly online, with many retailers hitting people with surprise charges just before they were about to make a purchase.

In many instances, the charges far outweighed how much it cost the retailer to process a payment, with estimates suggesting that surcharging cost Brits £166 million in 2015.

"It's completely unfair for someone to be hit by a hidden fee just before they are about to make a purchase, so by scrapping these rip-off charges we are helping to give power back to the consumer," said John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury.

The new rules will be enforced by Trading Standards, who will have the power to take civil enforcement action against traders who breach the regulations. It will also entitle customers to receive a refund of any unlawful surcharge they have paid and enable them, if necessary, to take legal action to recover any such surcharge.

The ban applies to all purchases made where the banks of the consumer and retailer are within the European Economic Area (EEA). In the vast majority of other circumstances, surcharges are capped at the cost to the retailer for processing the payment. The UK Government took the decision to also include other payment methods such as PayPal in the ban, to further protect consumers.

What next?

The demise of the surprise credit card charge is excellent news, but making sure you have the best credit card to suit your spending habits could save you even more in the long run.

If you regularly spend on your credit card, or want to make a big purchase but don't have the money upfront, a 0% purchase credit card could be for you.

These cards allow you to spread the cost of your spending without incurring any interest for a certain amount of time. This does, of course, rely on you always making your minimum monthly repayments and paying off the entire balance before the interest-free period expires.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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