Consumers to Retailers: Don't Make Us Pay Your Business Costs

September 17, 2009 at 8:00 AM EDT

Consumers Believe the Merchant Benefits of Accepting Cards Outweigh Cost; Retailers Would Pocket Checkout Fee Profits at Consumers' Expense

Tips on Avoiding Harmful Fees at Checkout

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers believe retailers benefit far more from accepting credit and debit cards than they pay in costs, according to a new survey released today by Visa Inc. The survey also finds that consumers believe merchants see card cost acceptance as a part of doing business, much like paying for utilities such as electricity.

Retailers and their well-funded trade associations have filed lawsuits and are aggressively lobbying Congress to allow them to shift their business costs to consumers by allowing merchants to charge checkout fees whenever consumers use credit or debit cards. At the same time, national convenience store chains have launched misleading, in-store petition campaigns to cover for their checkout fee efforts.

"The response is loud and clear: consumers aren't buying the message convenience store chains and big retailers are selling," said Bill Sheedy, group president of the Americas for Visa Inc. "This research demonstrates that consumers are well aware that legislation is a Trojan horse that likely will lead to higher prices for cardholders while retailers pocket the savings."

Among the survey's findings:

  • By a 2-to-1 margin, consumers say retailers should pay the cost of accepting credit and debit cards.
  • 78 percent of consumers believe the value and benefits retailers receive from accepting credit and debit cards outweigh the costs of accepting them.
  • 83 percent of those surveyed believe that any savings retailers realize will be used to increase their own bottom lines and will not be passed on to consumers.
  • 91 percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop at stores that accept credit and debit cards.

The research shows consumers understand that retailers benefit greatly from electronic payments whether it is through guaranteed payment, increased security, acceptance, innovation or even store-brand cards that help build customer loyalty.

"Retailers want the best of both worlds - the benefits of card acceptance without paying the costs," Sheedy added. "This research shows that retailers who are campaigning for checkout fees or uneven legislative schemes that shift the cost of doing business onto the backs of consumers are risking a customer backlash."

Currently ten states protect consumers from card checkout fees, also known as surcharging, and Visa has rules that prohibit retailers from penalizing consumers who use their branded credit, debit or prepaid cards. Unfortunately, a number of retailers are seeking to evade Visa rules and state laws by attempting to shift their cost of doing business onto consumers who use electronic payments through checkout fees.


  • Look for posted signs in stores (generally at the checkout counter) that advertise an extra fee for using a credit or debit card.
  • Check store receipts carefully for card checkout fees. They often appear after taxes on receipts, sometimes next to obscure descriptions.
  • Tell the checkout clerk or store manager that charging a checkout fee for using a credit or debit card is not permitted.
  • If cardholders experience a retailer who is charging checkout fees, they should call their card issuer (by calling the number on the back of their card) and provide the customer service representative with the name and location of the retailer.
  • Consumers who are subjected to payment card checkout fees in states where they are protected by law may report the retailer to their state attorney general's office.

About the Survey

The nationally representative telephone survey of 1,000 adult consumers was conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates from July 20-23, 2009 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Visa

Visa operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

Visa Media Hotline, Tel: 1-415-932-2564,