10th Mar 2018

How to dodge the lurking surcharges when shopping

How to avoid shopping surcharges
Olga Galacho

Next time you are faced with the option of paying by credit, cheque or savings using your plastic card, think carefully, because it could save you money.

If your card is linked to several accounts, it is particularly important to press the correct button. Let’s say your card is linked to both a credit card and a transaction account: if you select credit, chances are the merchant will add a surcharge to the purchase price or even limit how much you can spend on credit, according to Finder.com.au.

In addition, if you fail to pay your credit card balance on time, you will incur interest.

On the flip side, the comparison site lists some advantages to using credit:

  • If you are not sure that you have sufficient funds, using credit means you can still make your purchase without being declined
  • The credit card provider offers ‘chargeback’ protection making it easier to obtain a refund under certain circumstances
  • All your purchases are monitored by the provider to ensure no suspicious or fraudulent activity has taken place.

Using the savings or cheque option does not come with the same protections.

But if you do not have sufficient funds in a savings or cheque account, the transaction will be declined, saving you from spending money you don’t have.

Some debit cards also have a credit facility. If you want to use your own funds in order to avoid paying interest in the future, ensure you press savings or cheque rather than credit.

If yours is a debit card and you choose to purchase using payWave, the funds will come out of your savings or transaction account.

But if you have a credit facility linked to your card, using payWave will force the purchase to be debited to your credit account, regardless of whether you have a savings or transaction account linked to it.

And again, unless you pay your balance on time, this option will attract an interest charge.

Which account do you find the most versatile for shopping? Have you ever been slugged by interest because you thought you were using your debit rather than credit facility?

Related articles:
The savings accounts that return the most
Debit or credit: which is best
New credit card code


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14th Mar 2018
When faced with surcharge for using a credit card I then consider the cost and will often use either a debit card or cash. I never ever have to pay interest on my credit card as it is automatically paid in full each month. Given interest charges I also never get a cash advance on my credit card. I do pay a hefty annual charge for my card.
Old Man
14th Mar 2018
Cash is King! Those of us born in the first half of the last century, BCC, (Before Credit Cards) had a great system going for us. It was called cash and most of us got our pay in a little brown envelope stuffed with cash. We did something called budgeting because when that little pile of cash was gone, we had no money left to buy anything. Very few of us made impulse purchases and we used lay-by.

If you wished to buy a house, you got a housing loan with a fixed term and if you wanted to buy a car or furniture there were personal loans. Others used Finance Companies which had a higher interest rate than banks but who still did due diligence and checked applicants before agreeing to a loan. I wonder how we made it through until Bankcard was launched.
14th Mar 2018
I cut up my credit card when I retired but do have a debit card for emergency use. I can't get out of the lifetime habit of drawing a fortnight's allowance for my wife and me. This leaves some in the account for savings and emergencies. I keep a 12 month running budget so I always know upcoming bills. So I have never been stranded at the cashier with an empty account as I often see with younger people.

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