Australia says goodbye to excessive card payment surcharges

Australia says goodbye to excessive card payment surcharges

Good news for plastic lovers: payments just got a whole lot cheaper. 

As of 1 September 2017, every business across Australia will be banned from charging excessive surcharges on payments made by certain types of EFTPOS, Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards. 

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) have released a statement about the ban, advising that it extends to all businesses that are either based in Australia or that use an Australian bank. 

ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper has addressed the ban, explaining that the “good news for consumers is that businesses can now only surcharge what it actually costs them to process card payments, including bank fees and terminal costs.” 

“For example, if a business’s cost of acceptance for Visa Credit is 1.5 per cent, consumers can only be charged a surcharge of 1.5 per cent on payments made using a Visa credit card. 

“Our message to business is that you are not allowed to add on any of your own internal costs when calculating what surcharge you will charge customers,” said Dr Schaper. 

Business who want to set a single surcharge across multiple payment methods must set the surcharge to the level of the lowest cost method – not an average. 

“If a business’s cost of acceptance for Visa Debit is 1 per cent, for Visa Credit is 1.5 per cent and American Express is 2.5 per cent, the single surcharge would be 1 per cent as that is the lowest of all payment methods.”

istock_79305201_small5

Source: ACCC.gov.au

Businesses not left in the dark 

Treasurer Scott Morrison has released a statement on this excessive payment surcharging ban, stating that the action will “ensure Australians are not ripped off when they make purchase with their cards.” 

“Smaller businesses were granted extra time in which to prepare for the ban, but from today all those businesses will need to cease any excessive surcharging. 

“If they continue to impose a charge for card payments, they must restrict it to their reasonable cost of acceptance of the payment,” said Treasurer Scott Morrison. 

Businesses have had over a year’s notice that this change was coming, allowing for substantial time to review their surcharging practices and understand and comply with obligations. 

However, businesses won’t be left in the dark when it comes to calculating surcharges. Banks have been required to “provide statements with average costs of accepting each payment method to inform business decisions on surcharging,” said Treasurer Scott Morrison. 

The Treasurer went on to warn business that if charges exceed these ranges, “the matter can be raised with the ACCC for investigation.”

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this news?

Advertisement

RateCity
ratecity-newsletter

Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By submitting this form, you agree to the RateCity Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and Disclaimer.

Advertisement

Learn more about credit cards

How many numbers are on a credit card?

The numbers on your credit card actually follow a universal standard which is used to identify specific functions. Each credit card has a different amount of numbers. Visa and Mastercard have 16, American Express has 15 and Diner’s Club has 14. 

The first number on a credit card always identifies what type of credit card it is. Visa cards start with a 4, whereas Mastercard starts with a 5 and American Express with a 3. The remainder of the digits represent the account number, including the last number which is used to verify that your credit card is actually valid. 

Credit cards also have additional verification numbers, which are mainly used when the card isn’t present for phone and online purchases. These are the three-digit numbers on the back of Visa and MasterCard or the four-digit numbers on the front of an American Express card.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?

If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM. 

To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction. 

You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own. 

What can I do about my Commonwealth Bank expired credit card?

You’ll typically receive your replacement Commonwealth Bank credit card before your current one expires. 

Once you receive the replacement card, you may need to update the new card with all the direct debits that you had set up on your expired Commonwealth Bank credit card. These could include insurance payments, electricity or gas bills, and monthly entertainment subscriptions.

To see a list of all your regular payments in NetBank, follow these steps:

  1. Log on to NetBank
  2. Click on ‘settings’
  3. Go to ‘product requests’, and select ‘credit card regular payments’. 

If you don’t use NetBank, you can see the list of your regular payments on your most recent credit card statement. Keep in mind, this list may not be complete and you should also check your past statements or your transaction history. 

If you haven’t received your replacement card before your current card expires, call 13 22 21 and the bank will send a new card to you. 

It is important that you safely discard your expired credit card. This often means cutting it up with scissors and throwing it out. 

How to calculate credit card interest

Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmovable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.

The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.

This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on your credit card.

Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?

The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.

Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:

  • There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
  • Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
  • If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

Can I get a credit card on part-time/casual work?

Yes, as credit card providers look at your annual income amount as well as your occupation. Minimum income requirements tend to be between $30,000 – $40,000 for standard and rewards credit cards, however low income credit cards can have minimum income requirements as low as $15,000 per year.

What happens if I have a bad credit score?

If you have a bad credit score, you might encounter two main problems. First, the lower your credit score, the more likely you are to be rejected when you apply for a loan or any other credit product. Second, if your application is accepted, the less likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rates.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

Does Macquarie Bank offer any credit card insurance?

Yes, Macquarie Bank may offer credit card insurance; it just depends on the type of Macquarie Bank credit card you have. There is a range of credit card insurance offers you can benefit from when you take out a Macquarie Bank credit card.

If you have a Macquarie Black or Platinum credit card, you have access to travel insurance for you, your spouse and any dependent children while travelling overseas. Under this travel insurance you receive:

  • Interstate Flight Inconvenience Insurance, which provides cover for meals and clothing, depending on the delay
  • Medical Emergency Expense Cover, which offers you unlimited cover for most medical expenses, and limited cover for dental treatment and emergencies caused by an act of terrorism
  • Baggage, Money and Documents Cover, which is subject to certain sub-limits mentioned in the terms and conditions

As a Macquarie Bank credit cardholder, you could be eligible for Extended Warranty insurance, which provides an extension to the manufacturer’s Australian warranty on certain products. To access this cover, you must have purchased the product using your Macquarie Bank credit card.

Select Macquarie Bank credit cardholders might also be able to take advantage of Rental Vehicle Excess Insurance. This insurance will cover you for any excess or deductibles that you’re liable to pay during the rental period.

Most Macquarie Bank credit cards also come with purchase protection insurance which protects you against fraudulent transactions. You should check the terms and conditions to find out more.

What is the American Express credit card insurance coverage?

Several American Express credit cards, including the Gold, Platinum and Green cards, come with international and domestic travel insurance, shopping and purchase protection and smartphone screen insurance. All you have to do to activate your American Express credit card insurance cover is use it to pay for eligible purchases, travel, and a smartphone.

The complimentary travel insurance requires you to be less than 80 years old with no pre-existing diseases and your travel must begin and end in Australia.

To make an American Express credit card insurance claim, you’ll need to lodge your request with Chubb Claim Centre within 30 days. Submit the form along with supporting documents like medical reports, original invoices and receipts. You can also contact Chubb on 1800 139 149 or file a claim via the Chubb website.

What is the CUA credit card increase limit process?

A credit limit is pre-assigned based on factors like your income, expenses, and debt by the card-issuing company. It varies from time to time based on credit utilisation and changes to your circumstances.

If your income has increased or your liabilities have reduced, you can request for an increase of your CUA credit card limit. You can lodge the request via online banking on the website, or by visiting the closest branch, or by downloading the application form and mailing it. While making the application, you may need to provide information about your income, employment status, desired limit, and the reason for the increase. The card-issuing company will assess your request before approval.

Before you apply for an increase to the credit limit, ensure your bills are paid in full and you aren’t asking for a very steep enhancement.