Credit and debit card fees will be banned in the UK from this weekend – in theory, at least

The European Union will introduce a blanket ban on card surcharges on Saturday, January 13 – and the United Kingdom has vowed to retain the law when it leaves the unity in March 2019. Here’s everything you need to know.

From January 13, all companies will be prohibited from adding a surcharge to credit and debit card transactions, including balance transfers, direct debits and purchases – regardless of whether they’re processed in-store or online – in the United Kingdom.

But that doesn’t mean surcharges are going to be a thing of the past.

Food ordering service Just Eat has devised a plan that essentially circumvents the ban: it’s introducing a new 50p ‘service charge’ for all customers, which will take over from the 50p surcharge previously required to use  a card to pay for their order.

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“The 50p charge simply means that, along with our restaurant partners, we can continue to deliver the best possible takeaway experience,” said a spokesperson for Just Eat. “Applying the charge equally across the customer base ensures fairness for all.”

There’s a good chance other retailers will follow suit. While JustEat’s new ‘service charge’ pre-dates the introduction of ban (it was announced on January 8), it’s surely no coincidence that the service charge is the same amount Just Eat charged for processing card payments. If a company of that size is introducing measures to cover processing fees, smaller ones are likely to find loopholes, too.

Similarly, don’t expect your local corner shop to suddenly stop levying an extra charge for card transactions below a certain value overnight – though physical retail outlets will have a harder time justifying a ‘service charge’.

Online outfits, on the other hand, will be able to dodge the ban fairly easily, provided they’re prepared for the PR fallout.

But at the very least, it’s a step in the right direction for consumers.

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