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Does your business charge consumers a surcharge for processing credit and debit card payments?

If so, changes to the Competition and Consumer Act in 2016 mean companies are prohibited from charging customers excessive payment surcharges if:

  • it relates to a payment method covered by the Reserve Bank standard or regulations (this includes EFTPOS, Visa, MasterCard and Amex cards issued by an Australian financial service provider); and
  • the amount of the payment surcharge exceeds the permitted amount in the Reserve Bank standard or regulations (which generally must be no greater than the cost to the business of processing the payment)

2019 saw the first litigation brought by the ACCC under these laws. Previously it had dealt with contraventions by issuing infringement notices.

In the Federal Court case ACCC v CLA Trading Pty Ltd (trading as Europcar):

  • Europcar admitted to breaching the excessive surcharge laws in relation to 63,012 customers
  • although the amount over-charged was $67,215.59 (amounting to slightly more than $1 overcharged per customer), Europcar was ordered to pay a $350,000 penalty to the ACCC in addition to refunding the affected customers


We strongly recommend businesses review their payment terms and charges to ensure they are not in breach of the excessive surcharge laws as the cost to your business in penalties and reputational damage may exceed (many times over) any refundable amounts!