Retailers may charge credit card users a ‘checkout fee’

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GREENSBORO, N.C.--- It's so easy to use your credit card to pay for just about anything. But when your credit card statement comes in the mail, you might want to take a closer look. Retailers in North Carolina now have the option to charge customers what's being called a "checkout fee" to any purchase made with a credit card.

The fee comes as a result of settlement from a lawsuit last summer between merchants and credit card networks. It's designed to help offset the cost of the swipe fees the credit card networks charge businesses.

However, this new surcharge can't be higher that what retailers pay right now which is usually up to 4 percent of the transaction.

Robert Johnston, owner of Smith Street Diner in downtown Greensboro does not see imposing the surcharge as a good idea for business.

Johnston says he pays around 1.45% each time a customer uses a credit card. Johnston says if he were to change that to 2% on a $15 bill for example the customer would probably pay an additional 30 cents.

"At the end of the year that might add up, but why get someone upset over 30 cents," Johnston said.

Businesses that impose the new fee on credit card purchases must tell customer before they make a purchase. A sign must be posted at the store entrance, as well as the point of sale.

The checkout fee only applies to credit card purchases and not on purchases made with a debit or prepaid card.

Ten states have laws that ban surcharge fees on credit cards: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.