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Credit Card Surcharges are Popping up at More Merchants


Some Long Island merchants are not fully informing customers that paying with a credit card can add a fee to their bill.

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For small businesses, credit card processing fees have become a bigger concern under current economic conditions, Singh said. Firms are grappling with higher supply and labor costs and consumers tightening their budgets, he said. Many mom-and-pop enterprises can’t survive without cutting costs — and passing on these fees may be one of the few options at their disposal.

“They’re having to do this out of necessity to stay afloat, Singh said.

Nationwide, about 23% of small businesses use credit card surcharges, adding an average of 2.3% of the transaction value, according to a survey conducted by The Strawhecker Group, a payment consulting firm.

More Long Island firms are adopting this strategy as well, Singh said. Early in the pandemic, just a fraction of businesses working with CardEvo had consumers cover credit card fees, Singh said. Now nearly 90% of new clients opt for that model, he said.

Long Islanders have taken notice, with some saying they try to bring cash  when eating out or running errands.

Jordan Hoffman, of Babylon, said he routinely informs businesses that their prices aren’t properly displayed. Managers and owners respond that their system was okayed by a payment processor, he said.

If businesses give him a hard time, Hoffman notifies the Attorney General’s office. He’s filed roughly 15 complaints with the office and seen two or three businesses reform their ways, said Hoffman, a real estate attorney.

Sharon Abrams, a retiree in Nassau County, said surcharges can be particularly shocking on big expenses. 

Her husband died this summer, and Abrams worked with a funeral home to fulfill his request to have his body cremated. She was surprised to hear that using a card to cover the more than $1,375 service would come with a nearly $50 “convenience” fee. Abrams said she had no choice but to agree to the arrangement.  

“I didn’t have liquid cash,” she said.

“When it happens in restaurants … most people are just like: eh, it stinks,” Abrams added. “When it is for something substantial, it can make a difference.”

Surcharges — even for smaller purchases — bother Debbie Jansen, of Great Neck.

She sympathizes with businesses that suffered during lockdowns, but noted that customers have also weathered tough spells. 

“Many of us were unemployed for a long, long time and are thrilled to even be able to go out to eat,” said Jansen, who lost two jobs during the pandemic and now works as a receptionist.

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