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Beware of new credit card surcharges

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Retailers got the go-ahead to pass along some extra charges to you, but not without some rules attached.  You might not have noticed them just yet, but you should be on the lookout. 

In January, merchants settled a class-action lawsuit with credit card companies and some big banks.  The result?  Merchants can now pass along to you their charge for doing business with the credit card companies.  This means your purchase could have an extra 2-4 percent tacked on. 

According to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, retailers will have to have a sign in their front window warning you that you will be charged, and tell you the exact amount. 

If you use a credit card for an online purchase, the warning might be easier to miss at first. The FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection says the warning is only on the first page where you're prompted to type in your credit card information.

According to the state, those surcharges are only allowed to appear on VISA and MasterCard charges.  Right now, people using American Express or Discover won't face the extra charge, but that could change.

One very helpful reminder: A merchant can never impose a surcharge on a debit card purchase.

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