Nearly 80% of Americans Have Incurred Credit Card Fees

No one’s a fan of credit card payment fees and that’s evidenced in a recent survey from WalletHub, which revealed that 79% of Americans have been charged a fee for paying with a credit card. Nearly as many respondents (85%) also feel they’re being unfairly nickel-and-dimed when asked to pay an extra fee to process a credit card payment.

“It’s fairly obvious that when a consumer reaches the point of sale, they are not going to want to pay an extra fee just for using a card product,” said Ben Danner, Senior Analyst, Credit and Commercial, for Javelin Strategy & Research. “Especially when it comes to paying for-low ticket items. That fee may entirely negate the rewards earning on credit cards.”

Much of this frustration stems from cardholders not knowing what the terms and conditions involved. Nearly half of respondents said that merchants are not transparent when charging credit card fees at the point of sale.

“From what I’ve encountered a merchant may not even have a proper sign posted that they impose surcharge on credit cards,” Danner said. “Or the sign is posted in a place away from the POS.”

Frustration Abounds

The WalletHub survey found that nine out of 10 Americans think that processing fees have gotten out of hand. Half of those surveyed said they will not use their credit card if they have to pay a fee.

The findings make even more sense when you realize that consumers have been getting hit from all sides. The average annual percentage rate (APR) on credit cards reached 22.8% in 2023, the highest-level recorded since the Federal Reserve began collecting this data in 1994. Over the last 10 years, the average APR on credit cards has nearly doubled, starting from 12.9% in late 2013.

Swipe Fee Settlement Is Not Enough

Although the recent Visa/Mastercard agreement to lower their swipe fees may appear to be a bright spot, it’s not likely going to affect purchase prices much. That settlement amounted to Visa and Mastercard agreeing to reduce their credit card interchange fees by 0.04 percentage points in the U.S. over a three-year period.

That won’t be enough to placate consumers. Indeed, the WalletHub survey found that 59% of credit card users were opposed to any interchange fees at all being imposed on their purchases.