Surcharge limits

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) introduced card payment regulations that limit the amount merchants can surcharge for card transactions.

How much can you surcharge?

  • You can surcharge customers (who pay by card) up to your Cost of Acceptance for that card type
  • You can find this information on your monthly merchant statements
  • There are apps for the Albert Device which can help you apply the surcharge
  • Or you can add the surcharge to the total transaction at the point of sale

What is a Cost of Acceptance? 

What is a Cost of Acceptance?

Your Cost of Acceptance is the amount it costs you to accept a payment from a particular type of card. It's calculated for each card type:

  • Visa (credit and debit/prepaid cards)
  • Mastercard (credit and debit/prepaid cards)
  • EFTPOS
  • UnionPay

How it's calculated

Your Cost of Acceptance is calculated over a specific time period; either a month or year. The calculation includes costs such as your monthly plan fee, interchange and scheme fees and terminal fees. Your Cost of Acceptance is expressed as a dollar amount as well as a % of your net sales.

You can include other costs in your Cost of Acceptance, including: 

  • Payment gateway fees
  • Fraud prevention services
  • The cost of insuring against forward delivery risk

These costs must be able to be verified by official contracts, statements or invoices. They may be added to the Cost of Acceptance information provided by CommBank when determining your allowable surcharge rate(s).

You may not include any of your own internal costs when calculating your Cost of Acceptance (for example, labour or electricity costs).

Where to find your Cost of Acceptance

Monthly Cost of Acceptance information is provided in your monthly merchant statements. Annual Cost of Acceptance is provided in your June statement.

FAQs

I have multiple stores at different locations. What can I surcharge?

  • Your Cost of Acceptance is calculated per merchant number
  • If you own a franchise or have multiple stores, you can average the surcharge rate across your stores per card type, so long as all stores are under the same legal entity
  • You’re unable to average the Cost of Acceptance per individual merchant number and surcharge using the average of all card types

What if I don’t want to surcharge?

Surcharging isn't compulsory.

If you decide to surcharge in the future, you'll need to make sure you follow the rules by not surcharging more than it costs you to process card transactions.

What should I surcharge if I’m a new merchant?

Monthly Cost of Acceptance information will be available on your first merchant statement.

For the period where Cost of Acceptance isn't available, you can choose:

  • Not to surcharge
  • To surcharge at a rate that is deemed reasonable for the month. A reasonable surcharge is a rate no higher than what it costs you to process a transaction.

Should I use my annual or monthly Cost of Acceptance information to determine my surcharge rate?

You should only have to review the level of surcharge once a year using your annual Cost of Acceptance information.

If this isn’t available (you’re a new merchant), your business is seasonal, or your transactions change from month to month, you can change your surcharge limit on a monthly basis using your monthly statements.

What happens if my card surcharge(s) doesn't reflect my Cost of Acceptance?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may take action against any merchant whose card surcharge exceeds its Cost of Acceptance. For more information visit the Payments System Regulation page at www.rba.gov.au

Why is my Cost of Acceptance shown as N/A on the Cost of Acceptance table?

Your Cost of Acceptance is shown as N/A when there isn’t enough information to calculate your Cost of Acceptance. This may occur if you’re a new merchant or your facility has been inactive for some time.

Can I impose one surcharge on all payment types?

Yes, but you must set the surcharge at the level of the lowest Cost of Acceptance across all card types.

Surcharging rules don't allow you to surcharge an average of the percentages shown under the Avg. Cost Per Transaction (%) column.

Can I surcharge at a flat rate?

The regulations don't prevent you from imposing a payment surcharge as a flat or fixed fee, but it may be easier for you to apply a surcharge as a percentage because in most cases payment costs are charged in percentage terms.

When surcharging with a flat or fixed fee, make sure the amount of the surcharge doesn't exceed your Cost of Acceptance for any given transaction.

Be careful of imposing a flat fee surcharge where the cost of a transaction is relatively small as the surcharge is likely to be excessive.

Why is my Cost of Acceptance so high? It seems wrong

Your Cost of Acceptance is calculated based on your net card sales for the stated time period.

For example, you may only accept $10 in sales via card payments in August, but your monthly fee may come to $60 as per your pricing plan.  

Your Cost of Acceptance (blended across all card types) for August would be calculated as: $60 (fee) / $10 (card sales) = 600%.

If you use your merchant facility on a seasonal basis, you should rely upon your annual Cost of Acceptance information when setting your surcharge rate(s). You may choose not to surcharge instead. 

How can I tell what is an EFTPOS transaction and what is credit?

  • Debit transactions are processed when the card holder uses an EFTPOS key card or Scheme debit card and selects CHQ or SAV
  • Credit transactions are processed when the card holder selects credit on the terminal and usually when cards are tapped 

Things you should know    

As this advice has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Please view our Merchant Agreement, Financial Services Guide and Operator and User Guides above.