States are pushing back on retailers' new power to levy a surcharge on consumer purchases made with credit cards. That authority was conferred as part of a 2012 settlement with Visa and MasterCard over so-called swipe fees that merchants pay the card companies to process transactions. For customers, that could mean surcharges of up to 4 percent when they pay with plastic. While consumers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas are shielded from the new fee by respective state laws prohibiting such fees, seven more jurisdictions have introduced or are planning to introduce similar bans. Proposals are in play in Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and New Jersey and are being prepared for rollout in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Vermont. Lawmakers in those states say the bans are needed to protect the public, but observers say legislative action may not even be necessary since most retailers appear to have no plans to add the surcharge.
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