Credit card surcharging redux

My Economic Society of Australia membership renewal came today. To their credit, since the prohibition on surcharging for credit cards was lifted in 2003, the ESA has passed their merchant credit card fees onto members. Usually, American Express attracted a greater surcharge than MasterCard or Visa.

This year, the price for a full membership was $95 (if by cheque), $100.50 (by Visa or MC) and only $98.50 (by Amex). The latter represented a 3.68% surcharge compared to 5.79% for Visa and MC.

This is evidence that the system is working. It suggests that the ESA was able to negotiate a lower fee with Amex because of their willingness to surcharge. There is a lesson there for other merchants. Unlike changes to the interchange fee, getting rid of the no surcharge rule might be having an effect.

I’ll be paying by Amex this year.