In some parts of the world businesses charge customers extra who pay by credit card. This became common in Australia when merchants were allowed to recoup the cost of credit card processing from consumers, but then new rules were required because businesses were imposing surcharges that were even greater than their credit card fees.
This always seemed like a strange practice to me. The cost of accepting credit cards is often lower than the cost of accepting other forms of payment. People bounce checks. Cash disappears, change gets miscounted, and employees pocket some for themselves. Warehousing cash that needs to be taken to the bank can drive up insurance costs. In contrast, credit card processing is electronic, it’s easy to reconcile, and the funds are put straight into your account.
However Marriott’s Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has been charging guests a 2% fee for paying their bills by credit card.
It’s unclear when this practice began. However if you look carefully enough it’s disclosed by Marriott when you book the hotel.
I suspect that, for a resort, this sort of surcharge is less about the cost of processing credit card transactions and more that everyone pays by credit card. Guests didn’t bring checks with them on their trip, and aren’t going to go through the hassle of finding an out of network ATM while on vacation.
Within 45 minutes of my flagging the issue for Marriott, I was told that the chain was in the process of ensuring that the franchisee that owns and manages the Westin Fort Lauderdale Resort ceases the practice.
Credit: Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
I have to imagine that even if something Marriott might have been alright with otherwise, their partners American Express, Visa, and Chase wouldn’t have been. At this hotel customers were being charged extra for trying to pay with a Marriott Visa from Chase or with a Marriott American Express card.
As a next step I’ve asked whether guests who were taken advantage of by the property will have these fees refund. Have you experienced a fee to pay by credit card at a major U.S. chain hotel?