ACCC crackdown on credit card surcharges could save consumers more than $100 a year

The average Australian is set to save more than 0 a year if the government empowers the ACCC to crackdown on unfair credit card charges.

Businesses call them booking fees, service fees, surcharges, administration charges and processing costs.

But according to several leading Australian finance experts, they are nothing more than an easy way for companies to beef up their bottom line at the expense of consumers.

When you make a purchase, the total amount stays the same if you pay in cash.

But often, when you pay by credit, the price can be bumped up by anything from a few dollars to .

“Credit cards are a money-making machine,” finance expert Paul Clitheroe told A Current Affair.

Money magazine editor Effie Zahos agrees, saying that giving the ACCC the power to chase companies that charge such fees would mean “big changes for consumers”.

“There seems to be no benchmark, it’s whatever you can get away with,” Ms Zahos told A Current Affair.

“According to the reports, it should be as low as 12 cents or 0.5 percent of the transaction.”

The average Australian pays 0 a year in credit card surcharges, amounting to .6 billion annually.

This comes despite the Reserve Bank of Australia coming out in opposition to excessive fees in 2013.

But since nobody has been policing it retailers have been able to continue gouging consumers.

Victorian-based Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody believes that the fees being charged are “pure profit” for big retailers.

Mr Brody said that the ACCC need to be given punitive powers.

“That includes the right to impose infringement notices, fines if you like , civil penalties and going to court,” Mr Brody said.

But even if the ACCC were to crack down on excessive charges like credit card surcharges, Ms Zahos and Nine Network Finance Editor Ross Greenwood both believe banks are charging excessively high interest rates.

“The banks should not be able to get away with it the banks need to be responsible,” Greenwood said.

“Treasurer Mr Morrison, I urge you to sign off on this – and then let’s look at interest rates,” Ms Zahos said.