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27, retailers will be allowed to tack a surcharge of up to 4% onto your tab if you want to pay with a credit card. Happily, though, it’s unlikely to happen very often.For years, card issuers have been making lots of money off so-called interchange fees.

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They came at the expense of retailers and — by extension — you and every other customer who indirectly pays for those fees through the prices retailers set for their goods.

Credit card numbers that conform to the Luhn formula (MOD 10 check).

Consumer advocates say permitting surcharges is a slippery slope.

“If a national sales tax of 2, 3, or 4 percent were being proposed, everyone would be up in arms,” Consumer founder Edgar Dworksy points out on his site. You can avoid the fee by using a debit card, for one thing.

Until financial regulators and lawyers dragged this obscure term into general discourse, most people had no idea what an interchange fee is. It’s the fee, typically about 2%, that a store pays your bank when you use a credit card at checkout.) For low-margin businesses like supermarkets as well as mom-and-pop stores that don’t have the clout of their big-box brethren to negotiate lower rates, these fees cut into profits in a big way.

But in a contentious legal ruling that is still being disputed, a U. District Court determined last year that merchants are allowed to pass along the cost of those credit-card interchange fees to customers.

In a new online guide to credit-card surcharges, watchdog group Consumer Action points out that different cards will have different surcharges, so customers will have to keep track of not only which stores charge them but also how much using each card would set them back.

This sounds like a giant headache, but it’s something that could ultimately wind up benefiting customers.

(MORE: Today’s Young Adults Will Never Pay Off Their Credit-Card Debts) As consumers, we don’t take kindly to paying fees for stuff that used to be free.

Bank of America and other financial titans found this out the hard way in 2011, when they tried to impose fees on people for using debit cards and were forced to backpedal in the face of customer ire.

And there are laws prohibiting these surcharges in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.

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