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Some restaurants now charge more for credit card

Posted: 2:44 PM, Oct 14, 2015
Updated: 2015-10-14 14:44:51-04

There's nothing like enjoying a couple of beers while watching a Sunday football game. That is, unless you find out you're paying more than everybody else.    

That's what happened to Margie Krebs of Springdale, Ohio, at an Over-the-Rhine restaurant.

"We were sitting at the bar," she said, "and when we ordered our drink, the first thing they asked everybody was do you want to pay credit or cash."

Krebs says she and her girlfriend didn't think much of the bartender's question.

But when the check showed up, she found they paid almost an extra dollar each for their drinks.

$1 Credit Card Surcharge

"So when we questioned it, the bartender said there was a service charge for using a credit card," she said. "If we had used cash, we would not have been charged the fee."

Turns out that credit card surcharges are now legal in most states. It's the result of a 2013 settlement between Visa, MasterCard, and businesses.

Credit card customers can be asked to pay up to 4% more to cover the retailer's fees.

But the agreement says  it must be stated prominently at the register, or by a server, something Krebs says was not the case here.

"Had I known that, I would have paid with cash for one one drink, versus having a service charge for using my credit card between 75 cents up to several dollars," she says.

How to Protect Yourself

So what should you do to avoid this?

Krebs suggests that if you ever go into a bar or restaurant, and they ask you right away how you plan to pay, that should be a red flag.

"You might want to inquire as to why," she said. Next time that happens, she says, she'll keep her plastic tucked away.

Several states, including Florida, California, Oklahoma, and Colorado,  have laws prohibiting credit card surcharges.

But stores in many cases can get around this by offering a"discount" for using cash.

So be on the lookout, so you don't waste your money.

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