Assembly Panel Passes Bill To Prevent Retailers From Charging Credit Card Fees

TRENTON  – The Assembly Financial Institution and Insurance Committee approved legislation today that would prohibit retail merchants from imposing surcharges on consumer credit card purchases.

Sponsors note that this bill was introduced in response to a recent change in credit card regulations allowing merchants to impose a surcharge on consumers when they use a credit card as of Jan. 27. Historically, credit card companies have not permitted retailer surcharging.

“Consumers are the lifelines to rebuilding New Jersey business and economy,” said Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes III(D- Middlesex) “We must encourage consumer spending and help New Jersey families make every dollar in their budget count.”

The change in U.S. regulation comes as a result of a provision required by merchants to settle a long-standing litigation brought by a class of retailers in 2005 against credit card companies. Retailers who choose to impose the new charge must disclose it on customer receipts – typically from 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the credit-card purchase – and post signs revealing it. The levy affects only purchases made with credit and charge accounts, not debit cards, according to consumer public advocacy group.

Ten states have banned imposing the new fees including New York, but not Pennsylvania.

Some New Jersey retailers have expressed a disinterest in charging consumers an additional surcharge.

The measure was amended in committee to allow the current practice of charging different prices for cash/credit at a gas station, in accordance with existing law. The bill now goes to the Assembly Speaker, who will decide when to post it for a floor vote.

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