Find out how the Reserve Bank of Australia's surcharging regulations affect your business, whether surcharging is right for your business and how to calculate surcharges.

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Payment industry surcharging regulations

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) introduced Standard No 3 of 2016 (the “RBA Standard”) on 1 September 2016 for Large Merchants (as defined in the RBA Standard) and on 1 September 2017 (for other relevant merchants). The objective of the RBA Standard is to promote efficiency and competition in the Australian payments system. It includes surcharging regulations for merchants who accept certain card scheme payments and choose to surcharge their customers for the cost of doing so.

Permitted surcharge costs are listed in the RBA Standard and include fees paid to the merchant’s acquirer such as merchant service fees, card transaction processing fees and certain other observable costs paid to third parties for services directly related to accepting particular types of cards.

If you plan to surcharge, you should ensure that you and your staff are fully aware and informed of the detailed provisions of the RBA Standard. Compliance with the RBA Standard is your responsibility as a merchant. A full copy of the RBA Standard (Standard No 3 of 2016) is available on the RBA website.

Frequently asked questions

  • A merchant can choose to apply surcharge or not. However, once a merchant decides to apply surcharging, they need to follow RBA and ACCC rules of not charging beyond the cost of acceptance.

    If a Merchant chooses to not surcharge for card payments then the business will absorb the transactions costs. Surcharging regulation will not apply to a Merchant who does not apply surcharging

  • The standards apply on typical card and Alternative Payment Methods including:

    • Eftpos/Eftpos Prepaid,
    • Mastercard Debit/Prepaid,
    • Mastercard Credit,
    • Visa Debit/Prepaid, and
    • Visa Credit
    • Other card systems may include conditions in their merchant agreements that are similar to the limits on surcharges under the RBA’s standard, in which case merchants may be contractually bound to similar caps on what they can surcharge cards from other systems. Over time other payment types could be added via regulation.
  • You can add a surcharge to the following types of transactions:

    • Sales / purchase
    • Purchase with Cash Out (on the purchase amount only)
    • Purchase with tipping (on the purchase amount only).
  • Calculating the amount to surcharge is the responsibility of the merchant.

    Under the surcharging regulations, the amount you can surcharge customers (e.g. at the time of payment), must be limited to the reasonable cost to accept (cost of acceptance) that card type transactions during a 12 month period which ended not more than 13 months ago. You will be able to use the information on your ANZ Worldline Payment Solutions Statement to assist you.

    In addition to acquirer fees, the surcharging regulations allow specific other costs to be recovered from a payment surcharge if they directly relate to the card type being surcharged.

    These costs may include:

    • fraud prevention services
    • direct gateway costs
    • any terminal costs paid to a provider other than the merchant’s acquirer or payments facilitator
    • switching fees; or
    • insurance premiums for the provision of goods/services not being provided due to payments effected by card transactions

    These costs must be verifiable via contracts, statements or invoices. Costs internal to your business cannot be included in a surcharge.

    According to the Reserve Bank of Australia the estimated average costs for the different payment types are:

    • Eftpos: less than 0.5%
    • Visa and Mastercard debit: between 0.5% and 1%
    • Visa and Mastercard credit: between 1% and 1.5%.

    To accept these payment types, most businesses incur costs within these ranges.

    Source: ACCC

    Your monthly Merchant Statement will include a Cost of Acceptance table to help calculate how much you can surcharge.

    To manually calculate the Cost of Acceptance:

    Average Cost % = (Net Fees / Net Sales) x 100.

  • You may choose to surcharge the same percentage rate for multiple card types. However, under the surcharging regulation, you are required to set the surcharge based on the lowest average cost of acceptance across all of the card types.

    For example, if Eftpos is 0.5%, then the flat rate you should apply is 0.5% to all card and transaction types even if the cost of acceptance for VISA and Mastercard are higher.

  • If a Merchant surcharges for Transactions, it must:

    • Clearly disclose the surcharge to the Cardholder before the Transaction is processed and allow the Cardholder to cancel the Transaction without incurring any cost;
    • Ensure any surcharge does not exceed the Merchant’s reasonable cost of acceptance as that concept is defined by the Reserve Bank of Australia and by applicable Laws;
    • Ensure the surcharge is only charged by the Merchant that provides goods or services to the Cardholder;
    • Ensure the surcharge does not differ according to the issuer of the Nominated Card;
    • Review the surcharge regularly and at least once every year
    • For Refunds, refund any surcharge charged in respect of the
    • Transaction. For partial refunds, the surcharge must be pro-rated; and
    • Comply with any Laws, regulations and requirements in the Terminal Guides in respect of surcharging.
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has powers to enforce compliance with the RBA Standard. Enforcement powers include monetary fines for non-compliance. Merchants must ensure they are compliant with the surcharging regulations and can demonstrate that their surcharging amount does not exceed their cost of acceptance.

  • If you are a new merchant and have not yet received any cost of acceptance statement, it is advised to wait at least a month and use your first monthly statement.

  • Merchants in Australia are required to regularly review their surcharge amounts (a least once a year) to ensure that they are in compliance with RBA regulations and are not over-recovering their costs. Additionally, if the RBA changes its regulations regarding the reasonable cost of acceptance, merchants should review their surcharge amounts to ensure they remain compliant.

  • To set up surcharging, update the surcharge amount or turn off surcharging, contact Merchant Support on 1800 039 025. 

  • Merchants are advised to follow the rules and guidance provided on both RBA and ACCC websites:

Need assistance?

Contact our Merchant Support team, available 24/7.

Important Information

For ANZ business account holders, funds are available on the same day for online transactions, processed through the terminal and settled before 9pm (AEST). For non-ANZ business account holders, for online transactions processed through the terminal, ANZ Worldline Payment Solutions will transfer the funds to the merchant’s bank on the following business day and the availability of the funds will be determined by the merchant’s bank. For transactions processed offline or via Paper Merchant Vouchers, these settlement times do not apply.