Reminder: Credit Card Surcharges Illegal In Florida

creditcardBOCA RATON, FL ( — It is the time of year where parents throughout Palm Beach County are reserving daycare, pre-school and private school spots, and often being hit with a credit card surcharge.

While there are exceptions to every rule, keep in mind that Florida lawmakers put into effect statute 501.0117 in 2012 which prohibits pretty much anyone who accepts a credit card from charging a processing or convenience fee for using that card.

This can often be as high as 3.5-percent.

Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express charge processing fees to merchants. In a landmark agreement following a class action lawsuit, these credit companies just started permitting merchants to pass on their processing fees to consumers.

But Florida still bans the practice. Lawmakers effectively told merchants to deduct the fee as a business expense on their taxes, but not pass it on to consumers.

Merchants may, however, offer a “cash discount,” saying that the real price is $50, but it’s yours for $47 if you pay cash.

Have you experienced a credit card surcharge in Palm Beach County? Let us know.

Here is the law:

01.0117 Credit cards; transactions in which seller or lessor prohibited from imposing surcharge; penalty.—

(1) A seller or lessor in a sales or lease transaction may not impose a surcharge on the buyer or lessee for electing to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means, if the seller or lessor accepts payment by credit card. A surcharge is any additional amount imposed at the time of a sale or lease transaction by the seller or lessor that increases the charge to the buyer or lessee for the privilege of using a credit card to make payment. Charges imposed pursuant to approved state or federal tariffs are not considered to be a surcharge, and charges made under such tariffs are exempt from this section. A convenience fee imposed upon a student or family paying tuition, fees, or other student account charges by credit card to a William L. Boyd, IV, Florida resident access grant eligible institution, as defined in s. 1009.89, is not considered to be a surcharge and is exempt from this section if the amount of the convenience fee does not exceed the total cost charged by the credit card company to the institution. The term “credit card” includes those cards for which unpaid balances are payable on demand. This section does not apply to the offering of a discount for the purpose of inducing payment by cash, check, or other means not involving the use of a credit card, if the discount is offered to all prospective customers.
(2) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (1) is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.—ss. 1, 2, ch. 87-43; s. 3, ch. 2010-219.


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