Businesses in Ontario will be allowed to pass on credit card fees to customers starting on Thursday.
The change comes as part of a settlement in a recent multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit involving Visa and Mastercard.
While it was never illegal in Ontario for businesses to pass on credit card fees to customers, Visa and Mastercard had their own rules against surcharging, which merchants were required to follow.
The Canadian Federal of Independent Businesses told CTV News Toronto there are a few things businesses and consumers in Ontario "need to know" before the new rules come into effect on Oct. 6.
Firstly, businesses must notify their credit card network at least 30 days before starting to surcharge. They must also post notice they are surcharging, and the amounts of any surcharges at point-of-sale, as well as clearly itemize any surcharges on receipts.
According to the CFIB, the maximum surcharge customers can be charged is capped of 2.4 per cent.
Businesses are also required to clearly itemize in a dollar figure the cost of the surcharge on receipts.
The CFIB said a recent survey of its members in Ontario found that 19 per cent of merchants intend to use the new power to surcharge. A further 24 per cent said they will surcharge only if their competitors or suppliers do.
According to the survey, forty per cent of small firms in Ontario told the CFIB they are not sure if they will begin adding a surcharge and 17 per cent said they don't intend on doing it.
“We’ve asked the Ontario government to not stop small merchants from surcharging to cover the high costs of accepting credit cards,” Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario, told CTV News Toronto in a statement. “Each individual business should be able to decide on their own whether surcharging is right for them by weighing factors like competitiveness against the need to address rising operating costs.”
Kwiecinsk said she believes many smaller merchants are still "on the fence" about including a surcharge because they don't want to lose customers.