(WMC TV) - A viewer came up to me at the grocery store. He complained about smaller retailers charging a check-out fee -- or a "swipe" fee -- to use a credit card instead of cash.
He asked, "Is that legal?"
Yes, it is.
After a $7 billion class action settlement between merchants and the big credit card companies, merchants earned the right to charge their customers a swipe fee to cover the costs that Mastercard and Visa charge them to provide card services.
It's just the cost of doing business.
* The fee must equal the cost of the card service.
* The fee can be levied on credit cards only, not debit cards.
* The merchant must disclose the swipe fee, either with a sign at the point of sale, at the store's entrance/exit or on your receipt.
Merchants also have the option of "eating" that fee instead of passing it along to their customers -- or at least passing it along only when somebody tries to charge something like a pack of gum on their credit card.
You can report alleged swipe fee violations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.