its against the law for an establishment to charge extra for ATM/Credit right..?

Because my court house does it when you pay fines. Is there a reason they are exempt?

I don’t believe that it is against the law. That may vary by location, though.


It’s part of the merchant agreement, a contract between the card issuer and the merchant, not the law.

It’s not against the law, per se, but it may likely be a breach of the merchant agreement. Typical merchant agreements prohibit merchants from charging additional fees for credit/debit cards, requiring a minimum purchase amount or requiring ID as a condition of acceptance.

I believe it’s against the rules set down by Visa/Mastercard/Amex/Discover etc, but I don’t think it’s against the law.

It depends on where you live.

But people will do it, unless others complain to the Attorney General, and then to the local news station.

Correct, in California it’s codified in California Civil Code Section 1748.1. It’s important to note the law applies to “retailers”. Naturally, courts are not retailers.

It may be prohibited for merchants to charge extra for credit cards, etc., but it is very common for public agencies (even in states listed above) to charge users the cost of the credit card fee.

For example, in my town here in Connecticut, you can pay your taxes by credit card, but you must pay the fee that credit card companies charge the town. Merchants pay this fee to bring in more business. For public agencies, credit cards are only accepted as a convenience. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for this convenience?

It provides convenience for the vendor as well. Transaction is funded into their bank account in 2 business days. No check to process, no bounced check, and no waiting for the money. California DMV does not charge to use a credit card.

Handling cash has its own costs, and they aren’t trivial.

There’s also the issue of compliance rates. How many more people pay if they have the option of paying with a credit card?


I totally agree with you. However, the visibility of the credit card charge feeds the desire to pass it on to the payer. Tradition and the need to do a little cost-benefit analysis result in little to no motivation to pass on the cost of cash handling. You can see the extra % paid to the credit card company so much easier than you can see the pro-rated cost of maintaining change every day, training employees to handle cash, security against the risk of robbery and pilferage, etc. I might also speculate that the fact that cash handling expenses create jobs for state employees while the credit card fees go to evil megabanks may play a part in the decision.

The IRS charges such a fee to those people who pay their taxes via credit card.

Note that courts and tax collectors may well be subject to some specific legal requirement that they collect and pay into the local (or state, or federal) treasury a certain amount of money in fines or taxes from a particular person. If they collet a certain amount but then pay 2.5% of it to a credit-card intermediary, they could be in violation of that law.

In a different vein, years ago, I recall many gas stations charging higher prices for credit card users. (Or, if you prefer, giving a discount to cash customers).

Seems to me the fee will be paid by a taxpayer either way. :wink:

Visa explained to me that the local Gyro place is, in fact, allowed to have different prices for cash purchases vs other methods.
Apparently as long as check users pay the same as credit card users it’s kosher in Visa’s eyes.

Whatever you call it, a lot of gas stations around these parts are adding 5 - 10 cents per gallon for credit purchases.

Not quite. If there’s a discount for cash, all is well. But if there is a surcharge on top of the marked price, then Visa sez no.