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Can I Charge Credit Card Processing Minimums and Surcharges?

Check with your credit card processor acquirer regarding the minimum purchase amount and surcharges that you are allowed to charge. U.S. merchants may establish a minimum purchase amount on credit card transactions. The minimum purchase amount must not exceed $10, must not differentiate between card issuers or card brand, and does not apply to transactions made with a debit card.

Adhere to any maximum purchase amounts on credit card transactions established by federal agencies or institutions of higher education. The maximum purchase amount must not differentiate between card issuers or card brand and does not apply to transactions made with a debit card. In other countries, there are multiple variations of the “Minimum Purchase“ rule, depending on local law and acquiring practices. Your acquirer can advise you regarding permissible minimum purchase amounts.

What Visa says:

What is a convenience fee?

It varies slightly from one card brand to the next, but a convenience fee is basically a charge in addition to the original transaction amount for the privilege of being able to use an alternate payment method. It sounds like the same things as a surcharge, but it’s not that easy.

By VISA’s guidelines, surcharges are different than convenience fees. By MasterCard’s definition “any fee charged in connection with a transaction that is not charged if another payment method is used” is a surcharge. So technically, VISA says that convenience fees and surcharges are different and MasterCard says they’re the same thing.

“Always treat Visa transactions like any other transaction. You must not impose any surcharge** on a Visa transaction.”

For merchants who offer an alternate payment channel (i.e., mail, telephone, or e-commerce) for customers to pay for goods or services, a convenience fee may be added to the transaction amount. If the merchant chooses to assess
a convenience fee to its customers, the merchant must adhere to Visa rules regarding convenience fees.

For a restaurant, taxicab, limousine, bar, tavern, beauty/barbershop, and health/ beauty spa merchant transactions with a Visa credit or debit card, authorize only for the known amount, not the transaction amount plus estimated tip.

Cardholders now have the ability to check their credit or checking accounts almost instantaneously via phone, the Internet, or an ATM. An authorization that includes an estimated tip can reduce a cardholder’s available funds or credit by an unrecognizable or unexpected amount. This kind of transaction may occur if a cardholder leaves a cash tip or adds a tip that is less than the estimated amount used for authorization. For example, a restaurant authorizes for an estimated 20 percent tip, but the customer adds on only 15 percent.

What MasterCard Says:

A merchant located in the U.S. region or a territory or possession of the United States in another region may set a minimum transaction amount to accept a MasterCard card that accesses a credit account, as long as the minimum transaction amount does not exceed USD 10 (or any higher amount established by the Federal Reserve Board by regulation) and does not differentiate between issuers, or between MasterCard and other acceptance brands.

The following types of merchants may set a maximum transaction amount to accept a MasterCard card that accesses credit, as long as the maximum transaction amount does not differentiate between issuers, or between MasterCard and other acceptance brands:

  • a department, agency or instrumentality of the U.S. Government;
  • a corporation owned or controlled by the U.S. Government; or
  • a merchant whose primary business is reflected by one of the following card acceptor business codes (MCCs):
    • MCC 8220 – Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools, and Junior Colleges;
    • MCC 8244 – Schools, Business and Secretarial; or
    • MCC 8249 – Schools, Trade and Vocational.

Click here to download the MasterCard Fact Sheet, Setting a Minimum or Maximum Transaction Amount – Frequently Asked Questions.

As a reminder, certain education and government merchants located in the U.S. region may participate in the MasterCard Convenience Fee Program, which enables qualified merchants to assess MasterCard cardholders a convenience fee when cardholders pay with a MasterCard card. To learn more about the MasterCard Convenience Fee Program merchants should contact their acquirer or click here.

Paying Taxes By Credit Or Debit Card:

Generally, taxpayers can make a payment using an American Express Card, Discover Card, MasterCard or Visa card. Taxpayers can visit the service provider’s web site for payment method options. The IRS does not receive or store card numbers.  The convenience fee will be included in the statement as a “Tax Payment  The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 authorizes the Treasury to accept these payments and charge convenience fees.

For further information on Convenience Fees, please contact your acquirer.

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