I’m sick of credit card surcharges. What can I do?

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Q. It seems practically every single store charges a credit card surcharge of like 3%. I’m sick of paying those charges. Except for having cash for everything I need, is there anything I can do?
— Spender

A. It’s legal for stores, as long as they post the charge, to tack on a fee equal to — but not more than — they pay to process credit card transactions.

The only way to avoid it is to use cash or a debit card, on which they cannot assess the fee.

But when you use a debit card, take note: Many stores process debit cards as credit cards, and in that case, they can charge the fee. You’ll need to select “debit” and enter your PIN for it to be processed as a debit card.

So before you hand over the plastic, make sure you know how the store processes the transactions.

If you can’t use the card as a debit, you’ll have to pay cash. Or you’ll have to agree to the fee.

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This story was originally published in July 2024.

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