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Registering Surcharges with the Card Brands

A Step by Step Guide for Registering Surcharges with the Card Brands

A merchant account for a small and midsize business requires many careful considerations in payment practices for the best chances of success. The caution applies to physical and online business payment solutions since a slight deviation in prices can significantly impact the overall business budget. One necessary process that requires delicate planning involves registering surcharges with a card brand (e.g., following VISA credit card surcharge rules). 

While credit surcharges in US states and US territories generally involve a shared list of rules (e.g., surcharge capped at 4% of the price), each processor requires a slightly different registration process. Therefore, you will need to find out and follow the exact steps for each card company to achieve a smooth setup for your credit surcharge. 

Visa Surcharge Rules

The first step of VISA surcharge rules requires your business to notify the company and your acquirer at least 30 days before implementing surcharge policies. You should submit the official notification form to VISA via their official website. As with industry standards, you must limit surcharge to credit card transactions ( the digital signing of debit cards does not qualify). 

Also, you should check that your business fulfills all state and federal laws and display surcharge disclosures at your store’s point of entry and point of sale. Once in effect, you should disclose surcharge dollar amounts on every invoice and receipt as a separate line item.  

MasterCard Surcharge Rules

For MasterCard surcharge rules, you need to inform your acquirer at least 30 days before implementing the policy. Your business needs to fulfill disclosure obligations outlined by MasterCard with specific information. 

These details include your company’s name, business contact information, number of surcharged locations,  business channel (e.g., mail order or e-commerce), and type of surcharge (i.e., service or product). 

Additionally, MasterCard and VISA provide you with the flexibility of applying surcharge fees at the brand or product level. Your surcharge will affect all credit products for the former, while the latter applies to specific cards. 

However, you need to choose between the two surcharge levels as having both is not allowed. Also, you should inform the credit company of your preferred approach and make clarifications in your disclosure signage. You may access and submit MasterCard’s disclosure form from the company’s official website. 

AMEX Surcharge Rules

American Express surcharge rules follow similar registration steps to MasterCard and VISA,  with a more seamless process. The credit company does not require the submission of a formal notice as long as your business fulfills all other standard disclosure requirements. 

Additionally, AMEX does not require the explicit display of the surcharge amount in dollars and cents on your network authorization request and settlements. 

Discover Surcharge Rules

Similar to other credit products (except for AMEX), for Discover cards, you should inform the credit company and your acquirer via formal writing at least 30 days before implementing a surcharge. 

You may access and fill a surcharge form to expedite the process by filling fields such as merchant location, contact information, and service provider details. 

Summarizing the Steps 

For quick reference, most major card brands practice the following registration process:

  • Check that your state laws permit surcharge practices. For businesses operating across multiple states, surcharge only applies to outlets within jurisdictions that permit the policy. 
  • Inform your acquirer and card company representative of your intentions to surcharge credit transactions. Always contact your acquirer directly. 
  • Access and submit the card company’s online surcharge form.

When in doubt during the registration process, enquire with a representative from your card company or reach out to LOLA POS, your trusted merchant payments advocate. 

LOLA POS – Registering Surcharge with Confidence

The specialists at LOLA POS believe that your business can overcome the costly and unreasonable fees of card processors with specialized support and guidance. By partnering with us, we will help you establish optimized payments solutions for your business needs, such as registering credit surcharges without issues or delays.  

At times, your business might need to reconsider credit processor arrangements or update payment gateways to account for surcharge fees automatically. In such scenarios, the LOLA POS team will work with you to discover the most suitable approach while meeting other merchant account regulations (e.g., navigating PCI compliance and chargeback fees). 

LOLA POS will help you take complete charge of your payment processing without guesswork. 


LOLA POS is a merchant advocacy group dedicated to reducing or eliminating the unnecessary fees associated with accepting credit card payments. Since 2004, LOLA POS’s payment processing solutions have delivered tailored solutions, best-in-class customer service, and high-quality service offerings for businesses across multiple industries. Whether it’s high-risk or low-risk, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, LOLA POS will create the best processing experience for your company. For more information, visit us at our www.lolapos.com or by calling (866) 509-7199.

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