A credit card convenience fee is an extra amount of money a merchant charges for using a credit card in a transaction that’s unusual for them. That means, for example, giving your credit card information over the phone or buying something online (e.g. movie tickets) when paying in person is customary. Not all merchants will charge them, though. Plus, credit card convenience fees will never come as a surprise. A merchant must clearly inform you of them at the point of sale.
Here’s the scoop on credit card convenience fees:
A credit card convenience fee is an extra charge for paying by credit card in a way that’s not typical for a merchant – for example, by phone instead of in person.
Merchants must disclose whether they will charge a credit card convenience fee at the point of sale.
Credit card convenience fees and credit card surcharges are not the same thing.
A credit card surcharge is extra money you pay just for using a credit card instead of another type of payment. For example, something might cost $10 if you pay in cash but $12 if you pay by card. Surcharges are regulated more than convenience fees, as many states have drastically limited when merchants can charge them.
Taxes and college tuition are two types of transactions you can expect to pay credit card convenience fees on. In the case of taxes, the government is exempt from paying credit card processing fees, so the cost is passed on to you, the taxpayer. If you itemize your taxes, though, you may be able to deduct these fees.
All in all, you won’t see credit card convenience fees too often. Swiping your card in a store should not trigger one, for example, because that’s a typical way of doing business for the company. The same goes for shopping online from the likes of Amazon.com, since their business typically takes place on the web.
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