On 1 September 2016, the RBA introduced a new Standard for merchants in Australia when applying surcharges on card payments.

The purpose of the new Standard is to promote efficiency and competition in the Australian Payments System while maintaining the right for Merchants to apply a cost-based surcharge on card payments, limited to the amount it costs the Merchant to accept that transaction.

Acceptable costs include fees paid to the Merchant’s acquirer (or other payments facilitator) and certain other observable costs paid to third parties for services directly related to accepting particular types of cards.

Key Dates

1 September 2016

Large Merchants* are required to comply with the Standard.

*A Large merchant is defined by the Standard as those that meet at least two of the following tests:

  1. consolidated turnover (including that of any related companies) of more than $25 million in the most recent financial year;
  2. consolidated gross assets at 30 June 2015 of $12.5 million or more; or
  3. 50 or more employees as at 30 June 2015.

Large Merchants may not have access to annual statements from their acquirers or payment facilitators until mid-2017. Until this time, large merchants can calculate their average costs of acceptance over the most recent 12 month period based on statements, invoices and contracts from their acquirers, payment facilitators or payment service providers.

A spreadsheet with examples is located on the RBA website.

1 September 2017

All Merchants will be required to comply with the Standard.

Enforcing the Standard

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has been given new powers to enforce the Standard to ensure businesses take steps to comply with the law. The ACCC will investigate complaints about excessive payment surcharges and businesses will need to provide supporting information. If the ACCC believe a business has charged an excessive payment surcharge, they can issue an infringement notice to the business. The ACCC can also take court action against the business, seeking pecuniary penalties.

Further information can be found on these links:

RBA Questions & Answers: Surcharging - General

RBA Guidance Note: Interpretation of the Surcharging Standards

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission


What does this mean for me as a merchant?

As the RBA has noted, changes to interchange rates are likely to have some negative impacts to the value customers get from their cards such as rewards points or annual fees.

If you choose to surcharge customers, there are new limitations on how much you can surcharge a consumer choosing to pay which are outlined by the RBA


What has the RBA changed in relation to surcharging specifically?

Merchants can continue to surcharge customers for using a credit or debit card, however surcharges cannot exceed the cost (to the merchant) of accepting those cards.


I am a customer and want to know the surcharge amount that can be charged on my purchase?

Refer to “Surcharging - Consumers” FAQs for further information.


What information is available to help me understand how much surcharge can be applied to a transaction?

An excel sheet with examples is located on the RBA website.

From 1 July 2017, your merchant statement will include information on the cost of acceptance. This will help you to identify the amount you have been charged for processing different types of transactions.

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