Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Avoid card surcharges for good with Fee-Free Shops


Use this interactive online map to find local restaurants, cafes and retailers that don't charge extra fees when you tap and go.

In the age of invisible cash, there’s nothing worse than being stung with a surcharge when you’re paying for your coffee on plastic. So it’s probably no surprise then that new research from finder revealed that 94% of Aussies think that card surcharges are a rip-off.

According to the RBA, it costs merchants 1-1.5% of the transaction to accept Visa or Mastercard credit cards and 1.5-2% to accept American Express credit cards. While some merchants absorb these fees, others apply them as a surcharge when customers pay on card.

To help Aussies avoid these costs, finder has launched its Fee-Free Shops initiative. Fee-Free Shops celebrates businesses that don't charge any extra fees or require a minimum spend when customers pay with a debit or credit card. You can also look out for the blue finder-approved Fee-Free Shop sticker in the windows and glass cabinets at your local cafes, restaurants and retailers.

Two-thirds of Aussies (68%) would back out of a purchase if they discovered that a surcharge applied, so the Fee-Free Shops map and sticker will make it easier for consumers to find card-friendly merchants.

If you're one of these cost-savvy spenders but are unsure if a store charges any extra fees, make sure to ask before you pull out your card. One in three Aussies aren’t informed that they’re charged a fee for using their card at the point of purchase. Restaurants are the worst offenders for this, with 16% of respondents admitting they have been slapped with a surcharge without their knowledge while dining out.

Where are you most likely to pay a surcharge when you use card?

If your favourite cafe doesn’t charge surcharges or have a minimum spend for card payments, you can show them some love by nominating them to receive a free finder Fee-Free Shop sticker to display in-store. If you’re a shop owner or employee, you can also self-nominate your own store. Once you're verified, you'll receive a Fee-Free Shop sticker to display proudly in your store.

More and more Aussies are relying on paying with card over cash, and in 2017, a study by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) found that card use had overtaken cash for the first time. New research from payments company Square supports this trend, with 81% of Australian consumers saying that paying by card is more convenient than cash. The same research also revealed that Australian small and medium-sized businesses are wasting an average of 216 hours (or 29 working days) each year counting and banking cash.

“We need to debunk the myth that accepting card payments is more complicated and expensive than cash, because there is actually a very real financial cost to every business that handles and manages cash and it’s even greater for those that are cash-only,” says Square's Australian country manager Ben Pfisterer.

Although these card surcharges are still widespread, the RBA and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) introduced a ban against fixed-dollar and excessive surcharges for large businesses in September 2016 and later for small businesses in September 2017. Following these regulations, businesses can only charge customers what it costs to process the card payment. But if you want to avoid card surcharges altogether, make sure to keep an eye out for the finder Fee-Free Shop sticker the next time you grab a coffee!
Compare Credit Cards

Latest credit cards headlines

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms Of Service and Finder Group Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site