Minimum £5 spend a thing of the past?
Ever been to a small shop and read a sign declaring that you need to spend at least £5 to pay by debit card? My paper shop charges 50p for paying by debit card even if you meet the £5 minimum. Most of these shops don’t accept credit cards either. But do you know why this is?
Every time a transaction is made, retailers have to pay a fee to whichever bank supplies the card. Currently, shop owners pay around 0.9% for credit card transactions, meaning that for smaller businesses the fees associated with paying by card are too high.
The European Union wants to change this and cap the fees at 0.3% of each transaction for credit cards, and 0.2% for debit cards. The EU also wants to ban surcharges – increasingly popular now at several merchants. Travel agents and airlines are one of the biggest culprits of surcharges; paying ‘administration fees’ when booking air tickets online can cost as much as £30.
So this sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?
I fear the likelihood is that retailers won’t pass on these savings to the consumer, instead keeping that extra cash for themselves. These plans would reduce retailers’ outgoings by an estimated £2.4 billion. But how are the banks going to make back the money that they will lose from the planned strategy?
One way that is suggested is for banks to charge customers for opening a current account. Alternatively, a charge may be made for acquiring cards. A study published in July 2013 by the University of Essex and European Economics estimated that we could pay £11 for debit cards and £25 for credit cards.
What do you think? Will retailers pass their savings on to us? Or will we pay the same amount in stores, only to be hit by charges for obtaining a card in the first place?