What's the Deal with Card Surcharges at Cafés? – Hope 103.2

What’s the Deal with Card Surcharges at Cafés?

Why do some cafes add the surcharge, when others don't? Why is the percentage different from place to place? We chat with Finance Editor, Gemma Acton

Listen: Hope Breakfast: Seven Network Finance Editor, Gemma Acton, explains why some cafes add the surcharge, when others don't...

By Sam RobinsonWednesday 3 Mar 2021Hope BreakfastFinance and Business

It’s the moment that none of us enjoy – heading to the counter at your local café to pay for a meal with a credit or debit card, and discovering there’s an extra fee slapped on the bill.

I have noticed this trend emerging, especially since COVID-19 began, and it’s raised a number of questions. Why do some cafes add the surcharge, when others don’t? Why is the percentage different from place to place? And why are these surcharges appearing now, when we’re encouraged to use less cash amidst a pandemic?

For clarity, I contacted regular finance correspondent for Hope Breakfast: Seven Network Finance Editor, Gemma Acton. Gemma explained that it all arises from the business needing to pay for the use of their card systems.

“The card providers charge the merchants, and the merchants have the choice as to whether to pass on that charge or not,” Gemma explained. “Now some don’t charge anything at all, [often] to avoid scaring away business… But merchants can also choose how much they pass on, within reason.”

If you find yourself needing to pay with card, but want to minimise the surcharge on your bill – Gemma shared some advice.

“The average on credit cards [Diners and AMEX] is about 1.61%, Visa and Mastercard about 0.8%, and debit cards are much lower at 0.39%, and Eftpos is 0.2%. Part of Eftpos’ ethos is being the lowest cost surcharge, so if you get a choice of Visa, Mastercard, Eftpos or credit card, you should always go Eftpos. Sometimes you need to actually stick your card into the machine rather than tap it, to choose Eftpos, but it’s probably worth it if it saves you money.”

Hear more money-saving tips in the chat with Gemma Acton in the player above. And you can find more about your consumer rights around card surcharges at the ACCC website.

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