Excessive surcharges dealt to customers for paying by debit or credit card could soon be a thing of the past under new Government plans.
The proposals, which go out for consultation on Monday, would see companies face a ban on making a profit by charging extra fees for card payments above the cost they incur in processing the transaction.
Consumer Affairs Minister Norman Lamb said the plans would "allow consumers to see a clearer and more transparent breakdown of what they are paying for".
It doesn't matter what you're purchasing, being hit by additional card charges just as you're about to pay for your goods is frustrating.
But making it illegal for firms to hide credit and debit card charges could prove to be a real and timely money-saver for us families.
A step in the right direction
Consumer group Which?, which has campaigned for excessive surcharges to be outlawed, said the consultation was "well overdue" but a "step in the right direction".
A new poll by the watchdog found that some 84% of people believe consumers should not be charged extra fees for paying by credit or debit card, while 77% think these surcharges are unfair.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said he hoped to see the ban on excessive charges introduced by end of the year.
He added: "The Government must ensure that all businesses only charge the genuine cost they incur for processing the payment and that they are upfront, and make this clear to consumers.
"We also want to see a robust enforcement regime in place to make sure firms are held to account if they flout the ban."
Twelve airlines, including easyJet and Ryanair, agreed in July to include debit card surcharges in the headline ticket price rather than surprise customers at the end of the booking process.
Until any changes are officially implemented, it is important to know about the different types of credit card payments.
In an effort to put an end to bad business practices, the Government is also aiming to introduce additional plans to protect shoppers.
These will require firms to clearly set out costs and contract details, while customer service helplines will not be able to charge above the basic rate for calls.