Credit card surcharge change comes into effect for Canadian businesses
Canadian businesses are able to pass on a new credit card surcharge to their customers starting today, although it remains to be seen how many merchants decide to adopt the new fee.
The new rule allows merchants to charge consumers what are known as interchange or swipe fees, or the money credit card companies, banks and payment processors collect from merchants with every transaction.
Fees can range from around one per cent to as much as three per cent for cards.
It comes following a multimillion-dollar class-action settlement involving Visa and Mastercard, which allowed Canadian businesses to claim up to $5,000 in credit card fee rebates.
"This has been a long time coming," Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) president Dan Kelly told CTV's Your Morning on Thursday.
"Canadians pay among the highest credit card processing fees in the world but most don't even know that they're paying them now. These costs are embedded in the costs of everything that we buy because they're through merchants."
Businesses that want to add a fee for credit cards must display signage, indicating they have a surcharge, and show it explicitly on receipts. The surcharge option will not be available in Quebec due to the province's consumer protection laws.
A report from the CFIB this week found 19 per cent of small businesses are considering the surcharge to offset processing fees, while 26 per cent say they will use it if their competitors or suppliers do.
However, the survey found businesses that often sell to other businesses are most likely to add on the surcharge, while those that serve consumers were less likely to out of fear of losing business.
Forty per cent of small businesses surveyed said they are not sure if they would add the surcharge, while 15 per cent don't intend to.
Kelly and other retail experts say they do not believe many retailers, particularly consumer-facing businesses, will add on the surcharge due to tight competition and a fear of losing customers.
The Liberal government committed in its last two budgets to reduce these fees but is still working on consultations.
Meanwhile, research last year from the Bank of Canada found consumers still pay far more than they get in credit card rewards points because of the fees embedded in retail prices, with low-income consumers paying a disproportionately high net cost.
With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Daniel Otis and The Canadian Press
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