Credit Card surcharge


So, just wondering if there are some clever people here who can help me clear something up:

I recently made an online transaction by credit card. After the payment was processed, in my confirmation email, it was pointed out that there was a £5.95 credit card surcharge fee applied. I am really sure that this was never advertised before as I always look out for this, but obviously that’s difficult to prove, as I didn’t screenshot every step.

Anyway leaving aside the question of proof for a second, on a more principled level I have the following two questions:

  1. Can a merchant actually charge a surcharge, if I wasn’t advised of this in advance? What would be the relevant legislation?

  2. I found a fairly interesting bit in mastercard’s rules. These are available at and under the heading “5.11 Prohibited Practices” it says:

5.11.2 Charges to Cardholders
A Merchant must not directly or indirectly require any Cardholder to pay a surcharge […] in connection with a Transaction. […] A Merchant is permitted to charge a fee […] if the fee is imposed on all like transactions regardless of the form of payment used […].
For purposes of this Rule:

  1. A surcharge is any fee charged in connection with a Transaction that is not charged if another payment method is used.

(The omitted parts deal mostly with allowing discounts for cash payments, defining “fees”, and exceptions if “the Corporations” permits these in writing. But please feel free to read the whole paragraph if you feel I left out something material.)

A naive reading of these rules would indicate that mastercard’s rules don’t allow the practice of surcharges at all. However, given how prevalent these charges are, I find it hard to imagine that mastercard would let merchants away with these if that was the case. Any thoughts?


This might help;

(Tony, Secret Lemonade Drinker) #3

I’ve had a number of occasions recently where I’ve been charged an additional amount (usually £0.50) for the privilege of paying using my Monzo card rather than paying with cash (I used contactless rather than chip-n-pin, when I did pay, but I’m not entirely certain that’s relevant).

At wok we are in serviced offices with an on-site restaurant, and they insist on a minimum £5 value for a transaction (not helpful if you just want to grab a takeaway cappuccino).

Both of these things have made me wonder if what the retailer was doing was within the Mastercard rules, but I haven’t made any kind of complaint (other than tutting at the time, which is the British way!). Should I be reporting the retailers to Mastercard??


I am aware of these, but I cannot find anything in there that would force the merchant to advise of charges before the transaction. Am I missing this?

(Hugh) #5

Either way, I think card surcharges are being made illegal sooner rather than later


The same document says this:

5.11.3 Minimum/Maximum Transaction Amount Prohibited
A Merchant must not require, or indicate that it requires, a minimum or maximum Transaction amount to accept a valid and properly presented Mastercard or Maestro Card.

Again: This doesn’t seem to be enforced…


That’s true. But I was asking about the here and now :wink:

(Hugh) #8

Well I think that’s the problem, at the moment it is very unclear hence the need for new legislation :wink:


I’m with you on this. I understood the whole point of Contactless was to enable quick, low-value payments to be made by card without additional fees.

(Tony Hoyle) #10

Wow… almost everywhere around here except Asda has minimum fees… at one place it’s £10!

Didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to do that.


The thing is : im not really sure about that. These things (especially surcharges) are so common, that I cannot imagine mastercard ignoring these on such a large scale (especially considering that some very large companies do this and it’s well documented). There must be an exception to the rules somewhere…


It’s complicated. Although a few years old, this is an interesting article on the subject:
and so it this:


We wouldn’t have this problem if card networks and acquirer banks weren’t so f’ing greedy with fees and stuff. I understand that as a small shop having to pay 100£/month to rent a card terminal and fees on each transaction is not profitable.

(Tony Hoyle) #14

Indeed, but those aren’t the only options. iZettle for instance is a free reader and a fixed 1.75%. Retailers need to shop around.


£100 to rent a card terminal? Then they’re paying way over the odds. When I rented a card terminal in my previous business I’m sure it only cost us around £29+vat per month and that was 7 years ago.

If I had the option back then of iZettle then I’d definitely have gone for that over the Barclays Merchant Services then RBS Worldpay solutions that we had back then.

£10 credit on iZettle for both of us with this link: :+1:


Thanks. Very interesting indeed!