Payments. Ecommerce. Profits.

What Is a Surcharge Fee?

What Is a Surcharge Fee?

Surcharges are additional fees similar to convenience fees that customers incur while purchasing or using a service. You may have to pay a surcharge or use the surcharges to offset some of your salaries, but these costs may impact you, whether you’re a professional or a consumer. 

Understanding surcharges helps you keep track of costs and make informed purchasing decisions. To help you better grasp surcharges and how they function, we’ll define what they are, explain who uses them, and look at some examples.

How Do Surcharges Work?

The surcharge is an extra cost for a product or service over and above the base price. In many cases, a surcharge applies on top of an already existing tax but does not reflect in the general cost. Regulatory recovery fees might be either a flat rate or a percentage of the total. The government may establish this fee in response to the need for new funds or to help cover the rising cost of basic goods.


How Fees Are Calculated

A surcharge is an extra fee added to the price of a product or service to account for government levies or other expenses. They tack it onto the final bill at checkout. Therefore, the checkout fee is added to your total at checkout.

For example, it is possible to impose a flat convenience fee of $5 for every purchase. It’s also possible for them to be calculated as a percentage of the total price, often a very tiny one. The companies apply a surcharge exclusively to the retail price, so it is not subject to taxation. On the invoice, you will notice it as a separate line item.

Who Imposes Surcharges?

Various parties impose surcharges, including governmental agencies, private companies, and individual service providers. When gasoline prices rise, taxi drivers may implement a $1 fuel premium. Some goods and services will have an additional fee added to their cost. Instead, the extra charge is mandatory in the contract or purchase and sale agreement and is due at the time of acceptance or purchase (SPA). Surcharge fees allow small companies to accept credit cards. However, surcharges do not add up when using a debit card.

For instance, the bank levies the processing fee in a point-of-sale (POS) system. Companies also include fuel surcharges in the final bill when shipping persons or cargo.

Many people are going back to paying with cash to avoid the added cost of a credit card surcharge. As a result, it aids firms in reducing their exposure to hidden expenses. As we previously mentioned, there is a cap on the total fees and taxes that stores may tack onto the price of a product or service. The legality of this business strategy varies significantly from country to country.

Although credit card surcharging enables companies to transfer the processing price onto consumers, unanticipated events like the COVID-19 outbreak make it difficult for them to do so. The rising number of consumers who accept credit card payments directly impacts your credit card processing costs. For financial and managerial reasons, businesses may need to implement a surcharge to cover the credit card processing fee.

Do Companies Use Surcharges?

Various enterprises and organizations use surcharges, from governments to service providers. A surcharge, as opposed to a price increase, may consider fluctuating market conditions and transient shifts in value.

Banking and Credit Card Companies Surcharges

The cost charged by an ATM is well-known to the general public. It is common practice for the bank or other entity that owns and runs the ATM to impose this fee. The flat rate is the cost of using an ATM. To encourage the use of the sponsored ATM, most ATM service providers forego transaction fees for the ATM’s users.

To cover the expenses incurred by the company from taking credit cards, several establishments have implemented fees. This extra charge can be a flat rate or proportionate to the total cost of the items or services you’ve ordered.

Examples of Surcharges

LaptopSeveral sectors, including the telecommunications and cable industries, use surcharges to help cover firms’ expenses due to local, state, and federal restrictions. When these expenses rise, businesses may pass the increase on to customers as a surcharge instead of raising prices across the board. However, the cost is ultimately borne by the customer in a roundabout way.

A business may increase its regulatory recovery charge by one dollar for each client if new rules cause it to pay additional annual costs. Effectively passing on the government charge to customers saves the business from taking a loss.

Surcharges may include the regulatory recovery costs imposed on consumer bills by cable providers. To help defray the cost of different government agencies’ charges for providing a variety of services, specific surcharges are levied. Likewise, they charge more for sports shows to cover the cable company’s outlay in acquiring the rights to broadcast these events.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. In which jurisdictions is it legal to impose a surcharge on a credit card transaction?

Surcharging is a method through which credit card issuers may recoup some of the costs they incur while processing customer payments. Aside from some states, surcharging is not against the law everywhere in the United States. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects credit card surcharges, thus nullifying a New York State law that had previously prohibited such levies.


Many individuals pay surcharges for credit card purchases without batting an eye. But only some people agree with them or even know what they are. Surcharges are additional costs that apply to a product’s or service’s original price. Surcharges might be a flat rate or a proportion of the total cost. Service fees, handling costs, disposal fees, and processing fees are all examples of these. 

The service provider or the government may mandate payment processing costs associated with using a service. There’s no way around them, so you may as well learn to deal with them. But if you know what they are, you may be more at ease with the additional expenditure.