Caught Unawares, Debit Card Fees

May 9, 2019

So you have gone through the process of applying for a Debit Card and have finally been issued with one. This new card offers many advantages for consumers and gives them the opportunity to shop online, giving them more choice than ever before. But while you may be eager to test out the new markets that this shiny piece of plastic opens up, it is important that you understand the fees and charges associated with it. 

This is because there is nothing more frustrating than receiving your statement at the end of the month and finding there are fees and charges that you did not anticipate. 

While many banks will disclose this information, there are instances where consumers are left unaware. Therefore, it is very important that consumers know what fees are associated with Debit Cards and also request this information from their banks. 

No Fees charged on EFTPOS 

On 01 January this year, Government in partnership with the Association of Banks in Fiji removed all EFTPOS fees on Debit and Access Cards. This means consumers can use their Debit Cards on any EFTPOS terminal without being charged a fee. For example, you can use your ANZ Debit Card on a Westpac terminal and not pay any fees and vice versa. 

Unfortunately, the Council has noted that some unscrupulous traders continue to charge EFTPOS fees on Debit Cards. The Council is warning these traders to comply with the Government’s initiative to remove EFTPOS fees. Consumers are also advised to check their receipts and bank statements in order to ensure that they are not charged any fees on EFTPOS transactions. 

EFTPOS Surcharges on Debit Cards 

The Council has also noticed that despite the removal of the EFTPOS fees, some traders are surcharging when consumers use their Debit Cards on EFTPOS terminals. 

These surcharges are levied by the traders themselves and not by the banks. This is extremely unscrupulous and it seems that traders are trying to take advantage of gullible consumers. The Council encourages consumers who notice instances of this to report the trader to the Council. 

There have also been cases where a minimum amount for using EFTPOS has been set by the merchant. According to RBF, commercial banks do not set a minimum payment amount for the use of EFTPOS terminal to pay for goods and services. This minimum EFTPOS payment is set at the discretion of the merchant. 

ATM Charges on Debit Cards 

While EFTPOS transactions do not attract a fee, it is important to note that you will need to pay a fee for withdrawing from an ATM using a Debit Card. 

This fee varies by bank and will generally be higher when withdrawing from other banks’ ATMs or when withdrawing internationally. Consumers should request their banks to clearly state the ATM withdrawal fees that are charged on Debit Cards.

Advice for Consumers

The Consumer Council of Fiji advises consumers to constantly check their receipts and bank statements to ensure that they are not taken advantage of. 

They should also request all information regarding fees and charges on Debit Cards from their bank.

Consumers are encouraged to call the National Consumer Helpline on toll free number 155, should they need further advice or information regarding Debit Card fees and surcharges.