Ruling allows businesses to pass credit card fees to customers

Beginning on Sunday, January 27, retailers and restaurants now can charge customers up to four percent of their purchase price as a fee for using a credit card.

Vendors have been charged the fee by banks like Capital One and other credit card issuers.

For small businesses like gift store Pomegranate and Company in Rockville, those fees can really add up.

Now retailers, according to a court ruling, have the option of passing the fee on to their customers.

Consumer experts advise people to ask businesses if the fee is being added. Stores are required to notify customers of the fee, but you may not see a sign or note on your receipt until you've already paid.

And you can always avoid the fee by using cash or writing a check. Or by using a debit card instead of a credit card.

Ten states have banned the fee from being passed on, including California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida.

But similar bans have not yet been passed in the Washington area.

Many retailers, like Leigh Ky of Pomegranate, say they will simply keep paying the fee themselves. They'd rather absorb the cost than lose a customer.

"It's not good etiquette," Ky says. "You basically eat it up and that's what it is."