Nightly News   |  January 27, 2013

Businesses can now charge for credit card use

Good news for retailers, not for consumers: The fallout of a class-action lawsuit in July means that businesses may charge 4 percent for using a Visa or MasterCard. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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>>> not see it right away but fees for buying things by credit card may be on the rise with merchants starting today now permitted to hit with you a surcharge when you use certain credit cards . we get the story tonight from nbc 's katy tur.

>> reporter: if you felt like you were digging even deeper into your pocket yesterday, keep your eyes open today. businesses can now charge you for using your credit card .

>> this is great news for retailers, not very good news for consumers, which have never had to pay these kind of surcharges when they use credit cards .

>> reporter: it is the fallout from a class action settlement last july giving merchantance option to tack as much as a 4% surcharge onto your bill if you're paying with a visa or master card .

>> it would change my shopping patterns, definitely.

>> i would carry cash all the time.

>> reporter: you may be familiar with gas stations charging one price for cash and another for plastic but could the same happen in shops, restaurants and even doctors offices? in this highly competitive marketplace among retailers and an economy that is really trying to get the consumer back to spending, i highly doubt that retailers are going to charge this fee.

>> reporter: in fact, the national retail federation polled its members and found that none planned to add the fee. toys "r" us and target told nbc news they would not pass the buck to their shoppers. retail analysts say that's because most big chain stores have the ability to negotiate lower fees with credit card companies. but small businesses don't have the big chain bargaining power . silvia karch is the own other of a vintage clothing store. short of a cash-only sign, she is shoirlgtd the fees.

>> in order for me to implement another charge, i would have to discount my prices are, it there is a balancing act. i would wouldn't want to have another charge for my customers.

>> reporter: not everyone should be worried. ten states already have laws on the books banning merchant surcharges, including some of the biggest, california, new york and texas. still, the power is in the consumer's hand. shoppers could pay cash or use a debit card , which doesn't incur a surcharge.

>> i would carry cash or stay away from stores that carry the fee.

>> reporter: after all, you ultimately, have the choice to pay or walk away . katy tur, nbc news, atlanta.