Have You Seen This Charge on Your Bill? It’s Legal in Montana
There has been a lot of debate recently about the fees that might show up on a restaurant bill.
Last spring, we had a story about a restaurant in Bozeman that had a standard gratuity of 20% on the bill which would be shared with the entire staff. Anything extra would be shared with the individual server. Depending on your philosophy toward tipping, this might seem like a way to support waitstaff or a burden on the customer.
Montana Tipping Might Be Changing With This Daring Choice
But mandatory gratuity isn't the only fee that might show up on your bill. And this fee is not only on restaurant bills but on other kinds of merchants, too.
Credit Card Processing Fees
Sometimes you might see a charge covering the expense for the seller to process your credit card. Where I've noticed these is actually in the nonprofit world. Charities will often ask if the donor would like to round up their donation to cover the processing charge. But these charges can show up on commercial transactions as well.
Credit Card Processing Fees Are Being Capped in Some Places
This past August the governor of New Jersey signed a law that caps credit card processing fees, according to Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor, saying "the law prohibits sellers from charging more than what they pay to process credit card transactions. The law also requires sellers to disclose and post notices of the surcharge prior to the consumer incurring the charge."
Credit Card Processing Fees in Montana
In the 2021 Montana legislature, there was actually a bill proposed allowing for merchants/vendors etc. to charge a processing fee as long as it was disclosed prior to the end of the transaction. The bill was only a draft, but there doesn't appear to be any other legislation preventing surcharges, and according to the website LawPay, as of March of 2023, surcharges are legal in Montana.