In this edition of our “Ask the Experts” series, we see what retail industry insiders have to say about the new credit card surcharge rules. Will merchants avail themselves of these rules? Will you face higher prices? Read on to find out.
While the writing has been on the wall since July 2012, when a group of retailers settled their class-action suit against Visa and MasterCard, consumers didn’t really take note of the potential impact of credit card surcharges until the legal right for merchants to assess them took effect late last month.
The result was widespread initial concern that gradually devolved into cautious optimism. You see, most credit card experts (including our own) predicted that the sheer ability of merchants to levy their own credit card fees probably wouldn’t result into them actually doing so. There are simply too many hurdles. Not only do anti-surcharge laws in at least 10 states supersede the aforementioned settlement, but American Express also has a policy that effectively prevents the millions of merchants who accept cards on that network from assessing them. Besides, you have to believe that merchants aren’t too keen on alienating their customers during these economically uncertain times.
Still, the retail industry can be finicky, and like the stock market, it often fluctuates based on public perception. So, just to be safe, we decided to touch base with a few of the foremost retail experts from around the country to determine whether or not there’s more to the story than initially meets the eye.
You can see what each of the following experts had to say by clicking their respective name below, or you can jump right to our Takeaways section for a brief overview of what we learned from them.
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There are a few conclusions that we can reach given the insights offered by our experts:
- Major retailers are unlikely to assess credit card surcharges: A combination of competition in the retail space and conflicting rules will prevent major national retailers from availing themselves of their newfound freedom to charge credit card users more.
- Local retailers might experiment, but that shouldn’t hurt consumers too much: Even if certain retailers do dabble with surcharges, consumers will still be able to avoid increased costs by paying in cash or shopping elsewhere.
- The new rules will have minimal overall impact: The factors conspiring to prevent the adoption of credit card fees greatly outweigh those in support of it.
- There are more important trends in the retail industry: From mobile shopping apps and the changing face of brick-and-mortar stores to name-brand goods at bargain prices, there are a lot of other interesting things going on in the retail industry aside from credit card fees.