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Consumers may soon be subjected to “checkout fee” at register

Consumers may soon be subject to a “checkout fee,” a surcharged paid by the customer when they use plastic to complete a purchase.

“You’re going to start to see retailers really weighing what they’re going to charge consumers for using a credit card,” Kelli Grant, a consumer expert at Smart Money magazine, said, according to CBS News.

As a result of the latest settlement between card processors Visa and MasterCard, banks and retailers, merchants may now charge American consumers more if they decide to use plastic at the register. The settlement allows merchants to now charge a checkout fee, which could be as high as three percent of the purchase.

“It’s going to be, for consumers, an interesting dance of convenience versus cash,” Grant said, CBS News reports.

Retailers alleged in lawsuits beginning in 2005 that Visa, MasterCard and the banks colluded to fix high interchange rates. In addition to allowing merchants to charge a surcharge at the register, the settlement will also reduce the interchange rate for eight months.

Grant said that, up until this point, many businesses have simply tacked the interchange fees onto the prices that consumers pay for goods, though those businesses that sell small-ticket items may be better off asking for the surcharge, according to CBS News.

Additionally, many retailers may begin offering cash discounts to consumers who decide not to pay with credit, a practice that is becoming more popular among small business owners.

Grant said that by offering cash discounts, Americans may see a boost in their bottom lines.

“Not only are you able to stick within your budget but you might actually save a little money, too,” Grant said, CBS News reports.

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