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Consumer campaign calls out tap-and-go surcharge

Comparison site Finder.com.au has launched a new campaign to help consumers avoid shopping at restaurants and retailers that charge a fee or require a minimum spend to use ‘tap-and-go’ payment methods.

The site is urging consumers to nominate their favourite ‘fee-free’ shops and restaurants to receive a blue sticker, which they can display in their front window to alert other shoppers who want to avoid card surcharges. Businesses can also self-nominate to receive the sticker.

Finder.com.au is also building a searchable map that consumers can use to seek out fee-free businesses based on their location. Over 200 businesses are listed so far.

The campaign is targeted at the 94 per cent of consumers, according to Finder.com.au, who think card surcharges are a rip-off.

“As we become a cashless society, customers shouldn’t be charged 0.5–1-5% in fees for simply choosing to pay by card,” Finder.com.au money expert Bessie Hassan said.

“When consumers see one of the Fee-Free Shop stickers, they immediately know they won’t be stung with a surcharge or minimum transaction amount for the simple privilege of using their debit or credit card.”

Surcharges add up

Businesses typically tack on a surcharge or set a minimum spend requirement for tap-and-go payments in order to offset the fees they are charged to process these payments by their payment processor. The RBA indicates that businesses pay around 0.5 per cent of the total amount to accept debit cards and 1.0 to 1.5 per cent to accept credit cards, except for American Express, which costs them around 2 to 3 per cent.

It is illegal for businesses to charge more than the amount it costs them to accept card payment, but there isn’t any law around minimum spend requirements.

Finder.com.au research reveals that surcharges are most common at restaurants, hotels, cafes and when buying tickets for a concert. The site estimates that credit card surcharge fees for coffee purchases alone could be collectively costing Aussies $110 million per year.

Money expert Hassan believes businesses should eliminate card surcharges, or they risk driving away their customers.

“Surcharges no matter how small could turn customers away and could damage a retailer’s reputation and bottom line. More Australian businesses are going to have to phase out these unnecessary fees or risk losing customers,” Hassan said.

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