Today a ban has come in on companies adding charges to credit or debit card purchases.
It has been welcomed by consumer groups - but advice has gone out to shoppers that they should be aware of retailers attempting to find ways around it.
Q. What are the surcharges being banned?
A. As of January 13, all surcharges for paying with either a credit or debit card will be banned under new EU rules to help improve transparency and fairness. This includes linked ways of paying such as PayPal or Apple Pay and applies to any online payments, credit transfers and direct debits.
Q. How much were they costing me?
A. Consumers have been facing hefty charges, with fees typically around two per cent and on some smaller transactions accounting for as much as 20 per cent of the bill.
The ban should make a significant difference on some purchases. It will end British Airways charging a one per cent fee of up to £20 on credit cards, Ryanair charging two per cent on credit cards and the DVLA a £2.50 fee on credit cards, for example.
Q. So are all extra charges on purchases banned now?
A. No, the ban does not include fees that are not linked to the payment method such as booking fees for theatre, concert and cinema tickets or charges for using certain cash machines.
Companies will still be able to add booking or administration fees as long as they also apply to other forms of payment and they can still set a minimum card payment.
Q. Won’t retailers find another way of charging me?
There is concern that consumers may see the cost of goods and services creep up or additional fees introduced by retailers as a result of the changes.
Shoppers have been warned that overall prices could rise, and that companies can charge new service fees to all customers as long as they apply regardless of which method of payment is used.
For example, Just Eat, which used to charge 50p for debit or credit card payments, has just introduced a 50p service charge on all orders.
Q. What should I do if I think I’ve been charged wrongly after January 13?
A. If consumers spot any firm wrongly adding a surcharge for paying by card they should report it to Trading Standards, whose job it is to look into any complaints about businesses still charging for card payments.
If you realise after a purchase that you have been wrongly charged, you can complain to the company and ask it to refund the charge.
But consumers can obviously shop around to avoid retailers that make additional service charges and refuse to accept cards or charge additional fees.
Q. What happens when we leave the EU?
A. The ban will remain law when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 because although it is based on an EU directive, it is a UK law change.