Money Fix: Credit card checkout fees

For credit card users in New York, there

For credit card users in New York, there is some good news -- a new fee is banned. But shopping in another state, or online with a business in another state, could trigger the charge. Photo Credit: Bloomberg News, 2012

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There's yet another credit card fee. The good news is, it doesn't apply to New Yorkers. In late January, credit card "interchange" or checkout fees kicked in. Federal law changes allow merchants to pass along to customers the fees they pay to credit card companies. They can add a surcharge of up to 4 percent for credit card purchases. This change isn't "final-final," says Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs and public relations with the National Retail Federation. It's up for final approval in September.

New York is one of 10 states that ban the fee. But don't dismiss this entirely. "Every shopper should think twice before plunking down a credit card," said Edward Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, in a prepared statement. You could be hit with the fee while shopping in New Jersey and 39 other states where it's allowed.

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Pay attention, too, while shopping with small online retailers, says Erik Larson, president of NextAdvisor.com. Online retailers must notify consumers of the fee where credit cards are first mentioned on the site. Brick and mortar retailers must post a notice at their store's entrance.

Stores like Walmart and Target aren't expected to charge extra fees, but smaller, independent stores could be a different story. It's harder for them to offset swipe fees, points out Ken Lin, CEO of CreditKarma.com.

The surcharge is only for credit cards, not prepaid or debit cards.

Extra fees are a financial burden for many in these tough economic times. It's another reason to pay with cash.

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