N.J. lawmakers take a swipe at possibility of extra fee for credit card users

Even though the leader of a merchants group says retailers have no plan to pass on the “swipe fee” stores are charged for processing credit car transactions, New Jersey lawmakers may take preventive action.


The proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit allows merchants to pass along those fees to customers. State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, says the fee could be as much as 4 percent.

“Credit card companies and the banks both seem to be doing OK. We want to protect the consumers. They’ve been fine without it,” Whelan said Monday. “We don’t see any reason why they would need it going forward.”

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New Jersey Retail Merchants Association President John Holub says stores won’t make customers pay that fee.

“Consumers over the last few years, especially since 2008 when the recession hit, have become extremely price conscious. So the last thing you’re going to do is add an additional price onto a product,” Holub said. “Retailers are just not going to alienate the consumers that way.”

Whelan says he’s not aware of any merchants in New Jersey who are actually making consumers pay the swipe fee.

“We want to get the bill in before it becomes commonplace,” he explained. “It could be up to as much as 4 percent. If we were to go out and try to raise the sales tax by 4 percent, people would jump up and down and scream — rightly so.”

Under terms of the proposed law, stores that do impose the surcharge could face a fine of a much as $20,000.

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