VISA card fees and Car dealerships

I recently purchased a new Jeep Grand Cherokee from a dealer in California. Thought I got a pretty good deal, and just had to finish making the down payment (after signing all papers and having the SUV for a day). Because my father-in-law was giving us 6000 for down payment, and he is in another country, the best thing for us to do to get the money was charge the down payment on a gold card in my wife’s name (his account) and he would pay it on Monday. (This happened Friday night). Well, we explicitly informed the dealership that we would be paying 6000 down on credit card when we were making the deal (Thursday) and they said no problem. On Friday however, when we went to pay, they starting talking about 3% fee for down payments on credit card over $3,000. We were naturally incensed and so was my father-in-law. Turns out, they wanted to charge us the fee VISA charges them for taking a credit card. After a lot of yelling and screaming, they “decided” not to charge us the fee. What I am wondering is, is it legal to pass the VISA fee on to the customer? Is is ethical/moral? Is this bad business practice?? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


If the fee is not on the contract, they cannot charge you for it. If it is on the contract they can force you to pay it.

Since they “agreed” not to make you pay, it was probably not in the contract. Look anyways, if it is there and they did not make you pay it because you said you didn’t know about it, you may have found a reputable dealer that is trying to please it’s customers. If you determine this to be true, write the owner or manager a letter thanking him/her for their courtesy and professionalism as this will tell them that these things do not go unnoticed and may encourage them to keep up the good work. Well, FWIW, this is what I would do.

The only reason most people use credit cards to pay at car dealerships is to get the perks. Things like cashback, or frequent flyer miles, or whatever. I mean, you use your Sony card to pay for a car, you can probably get a free stereo system out of the deal. Sweet! While this is nice for the customers, it sucks for the dealers. They really do have to pay that 3%, and they get nothing out of it. So they try pass it on to the customers. If it ends up being a deal breaker, they let it go. Probably just charge a 3% “preparation” fee instead.