Could paying with credit card cost you more?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Texas gets a pass from new credit card fees that took effect in most other states on Sunday.

Retailers can now charge customers up to 4 percent more if you pay with a Visa or MasterCard in 40 states, but that doesn't mean Texas shoppers should let their guard down.

It seems shopping online is where it can get tricky. If a retailer is actually physically located in a state where the new surcharge is allowed, a customer might see that charge at checkout even though it is not allowed in Texas.

Texas laws ban retailers from charging customers more for using a credit card instead of cash. Retailers are required to post a notice on the front door letting customers know they will pass credit card fees on to them, but since the fees are a percentage of their purchase they don't have to tell customers exactly how much they will pay until they are at the register.

Every time a customer uses a credit card, the retailer has to pay the customer's bank a small fee. Last summer, a court ruled that merchants can now pass those fees along to its customers using Visa or MasterCards. Experts said they doubt most stores will do that for fear of losing business to competitors.

Online, retailers don't have to disclose the fee until close to the checkout process. By that time, many consumers may feel too invested in the process to back out.

Customers can avoid the fee by using their debit card instead of a credit card.

A customer who feels they are unfairly charged the fee should file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner.

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