Will retailers in Iowa and around the country begin passing along credit card processing fees to their customers? As of Jan. 27, stores in most states, including Iowa, could start charging a "checkout fee" whenever someone pays using a MasterCard or Visa, CNNMoney reported.
A multibillion-dollar settlement reached in July 2012 between credit card issuers MasterCard Inc., Visa Inc. and millions of retailers gives merchants the option to pass on a surcharge of up to 4 percent of the purchase price to cover the "swipe" that MasterCard and Visa charge merchants. However, it appears few retailers plan to impose such a surcharge.
"I don't see businesses necessarily doing that, small businesses especially," said Kelly Sharp, owner of Heart of America Market Place in Valley Junction, who doesn't plan to impose a surcharge. "I don't want to penalize them for using their credit card; I don't think that will go over well. I would just as soon as have the customers come in and pay the way they want to pay."
Representatives of Greater Des Moines-based Casey's General Stores Inc. and Hy-Vee Inc. similarly said their stores have no plans to charge a checkout fee.
Among large national chains that have said they will not add surcharges are McDonald's, Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.. The Home Depot and Lowe's have also said they do not plan to add surcharges.
J. Craig Shearman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, said reports of widespread fees are "propaganda" from the card industry. "Not a single retailer we spoke to has any intention of charging fees," he said in an interview with Fox Business.
"The settlement does not represent the retail industry as a whole."
In November, the National Retail Federation and more than a dozen retailers asked a judge to reject the proposed settlement. In a brief submitted to a U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., the trade organization wrote that the new fees threaten a merchant's ability to keep prices low for customers.
At Heart of America, which also sells online, about 75 percent of purchases are made using credit cards, which means a large annual cost for accepting credit cards, Sharp said. She's now looking into the payment options offered by Des Moines-based Dwolla Inc., which bypasses the credit card processing network and charges a flat 25-cent fee for transactions over $10.
"I'm looking at it and trying to figure it out," Sharp said. "I absolutely want to keep my costs in check and I'm looking at options to reduce my costs. But I don't think you want to penalize your customers, either."