Ask Andy: Credit Card Surcharges

(WMC TV) - Retailers have started playing a new game with our credit cards.

They call it "checkout fees." Consumer watchdogs like me call them surcharges.

They're an extra buck or two levied on purchases made with your credit cards. Retailers use them to pass credit card processing fees on to customers.

Not so fast.

Ten states outlaw credit card surcharges, although neither Tennessee, Arkansas nor Mississippi is one of them. Visa issued a warning on credit card surcharges, saying, "Visa rules do not allow retailers to charge cardholders a checkout fee for using (Visa) cards (http://usa.visa.com/merchants/operations/checkoutfees.html)."

Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com (www.lowcards.com) offered these tips for beating credit card surcharges at the check-out counter:

* ASK ABOUT ANY CREDIT/DEBIT CARD SURCHARGES BEFORE THE TRANSACTION.

* RETAILERS MUST DISCLOSE ANY SURCHARGES BEFORE THE TRANSACTION.

* IF THERE IS A SURCHARGE, DECLINE IT AND REQUEST ANOTHER METHOD OF PAYMENT. If necessary, cancel the transaction and shop somewhere else.

* REVIEW YOUR RECEIPT. Even if you end up using cash, a check or your debit card, review the receipt to make sure the store didn't levy a surcharge. There should never be a surcharge on a cash purchase.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.