Questions & Answers Payment Card Surcharging – March 2013


1. Am I still allowed to surcharge for card transactions?

Yes. The Reserve Bank's Standards continue to prohibit schemes from imposing ‘no-surcharge’ rules. However, the amended Standards enable card schemes to implement scheme rules that limit surcharges to the reasonable cost of card acceptance.

2. How can I work out what is my ‘reasonable cost of acceptance’?

The amended Standards make clear that the reasonable costs of card acceptance include, but are not limited to, the merchant service fee. These merchant service fees should be identifiable on statements provided by your financial institution (or card scheme in the case of American Express and Diners Club). It is the Reserve Bank's expectation that merchant service fees and other costs payable to the financial institution or scheme that provides card acceptance services will typically represent the bulk of the reasonable cost of card acceptance for merchants.

The Reserve Bank has also provided a Guidance Note to assist parties in determining what may be considered an appropriate level of card surcharges. The Guidance Note outlines the Reserve Bank's view of the costs, beyond the merchant service fee, that may appropriately be included in the reasonable cost of acceptance if the merchant chooses to do so, and how these costs may be calculated. The Guidance Note also makes clear some costs that the Bank does not consider to form part of the reasonable cost of acceptance.

3. I'm already surcharging in line with my acceptance costs. Do I need to do anything?

No. If you are already applying surcharges that are in line with your reasonable costs of acceptance, as outlined in the Guidance Note, you should not need to make any changes to your surcharge levels as a result of the Reserve Bank's amended Standards and any resulting changes in scheme rules.

4. Can I impose a different surcharge for different card schemes (e.g. for American Express and MasterCard) and for different card types within a scheme (e.g. for standard versus ‘platinum’ and other premium cards)?

Yes. The Standards continue to ensure that merchants have the ability to fully recover their costs of card acceptance and they may do so by applying different surcharges for different card types.