Say goodbye to the 50p surcharge: The UK is scrapping debit, credit and contactless card fees this month
In Ipswich on Saturday, in between watching a Derby County away win and getting the train back to London, I was presented with a familiar dilemma. If I spent less than £10 at the bar, I would incur a 50p admin fee – this fiendish problem was solved by doubling the number of pints purchased and blowing the WHO’s advice on daily units for both me and my drinking companion.
If the Football Association had put the fixture just two weeks later, I would have had no such excuse for letting the WHO and our livers down. From Saturday 13 January 2018, companies will be banned from charging any fees for credit or debit card payments – and that extends to linked contactless payments such as Android Pay and Apple Pay. The new law applies to payments made in-store and online.
The rule change is following an EU directive, meaning that every country in the European Union will be phasing out payments on card transactions over time. At the moment, surcharges on card payments are permitted, but since 2013 they have been theoretically capped at what it costs the companies to process the transaction, without any additional profit.
The knock-on effects of this law remain to be seen – it’s possible that some companies will just increase their prices in order to absorb the card fees, while others may even take a gamble and refuse to take card payments altogether. The latter doesn’t seem hugely likely in a world where Apple Pay and Android Pay are gaining significant traction, but behavioural nudges do sometimes come with unintended consequences.