New EU rule will ban charges for using credit card
Consumers will no longer have to pay surcharges for using credit cards from the start of next year.
New European Union rules will ban the charge that can add 2pc to the cost of goods or services.
The worst offenders currently are airlines and ticket sellers, and small businesses which typically add a fee for cards.
But the revised EU Payment Services Directive will ban surcharging on all payment cards covered by the EU Interchange Fee Regulation.
It comes into force on January 13, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance.
This means a merchant will no longer be able to charge extra for accepting a consumer card covered by that regulation.
This will ban surcharges on Visa and Mastercard credit card payments.
The spokeswoman said this would lead to the end of surcharging on the vast majority of consumer cards.
However, some cards not covered by EU rules will still be able to impose surcharges. These are understood to include Diners Club and American Express cards.
If a merchant imposes surcharges on those cards, the surcharge must not exceed the direct costs borne by the merchant to accept the card.
The department added that this country opted to reduce some of the charges that processors of card payments can impose, in a move that made it cheaper for retailers to accept electronic payments.
Known as interchange rates, Ireland now has some of the lowest rates of interchange fees on debit cards in the EU, the spokeswoman said.
Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers' Association, said the move to ban surcharges was long overdue.
He said the Government had promised in the past to get rid of the charges, but deadlines for their abolition had been constantly missed.
"There was no political will to tackle this," he said.
He said charging customers for using credit cards is discriminatory and anti-consumer.
Mr Jewell said when consumers pay by card the companies save on cash handling, security provision, human resources and insurance costs.
Airlines are some of the worst offenders.
Ryanair imposes a 2pc surcharge on the value of transactions for those who pay by credit card. A Ryanair spokesman said: "If there are any changes to the law in this area, then we will comply with it as we always do.
"Our credit card charge reflects the cost of processing credit card payments, including bank charges."
Consumer groups said the change in the law is likely to mean some companies will simply put up their prices, to make up for the loss of charges they impose on card payments.