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What is surcharging?
Trevor avatar
Written by Trevor
Updated over a week ago

Updated June 18, 2024

Surcharging is an optional feature that allows users in eligible regions to add a percentage-based fee when collecting a payment made with a credit card. This additional fee helps you offset the costs associated with accepting credit card payments.

With surcharging, you can reduce the burden of credit card processing fees so that your business can maintain profitability without compromising on the convenience and flexibility of accepting credit card payments. Surcharging provides a seamless, transparent, and compliant surcharging solution that allows you to focus on what you do best – growing your business!

Why use surcharging with Dubsado Payments?

Our surcharging feature has been thoughtfully crafted with small business owners in mind. With surcharging enabled, you can:

  • Cover most of your credit card processing fees: surcharging allows businesses to reduce the burden of credit card transactions by adding surcharges to your client's payments, so that credit card processing fees minimally impact your bottom line.

  • Maintain transparency and compliance: our surcharging feature is designed to be compliant with card network rules and regulations. Dubsado invoices provide clear communication to clients about the surcharge fee, so there won’t be any surprises for your clients.

  • Seamlessly integrate with Dubsado Payments: surcharging works hand-in-hand with our existing payment platform, allowing you to manage your payment methods, surcharging fees, and invoicing all in one place.

  • Enjoy flexible options: at the brand level, businesses can elect to apply surcharging or not, giving you the power to decide when and how to implement this feature based on your unique needs and client relationships.


Surcharging availability

Surcharging is currently available in the US and Canada only.

However, not every US state and territory allows for surcharging. As such, Dubsado does not support surcharging for businesses based in the following regions:

  • Connecticut

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • New York

  • Puerto Rico

In Dubsado, surcharging will only appear as an option if your selected country is set to the United States or Canada within Settings ➔ Payments and invoices. Your eligibility for surcharging will be automatically determined based on the business address provided during surcharging setup.


How Dubsado keeps you compliant

Since our business is your business, we do our part to help you stay compliant with all rules and regulations set by card networks and regional law. Dubsado automatically handles all of the specifics below!

Rates

The percentage rate for allowable surcharging is based on merchants’ average “cost of acceptance.” Cost of acceptance, in simple terms, is how much it costs merchants to process payments using Dubsado.

We’ve used this average cost of acceptance, in conjunction with your region’s rules and regulations regarding surcharging, to automatically apply a surcharge to all credit card transactions processed through Dubsado Payments. This surcharging rate will not exceed the cost of acceptance or the maximum allowable rate in your region.

  • For businesses based in the United States, a surcharge of 3% is applied.

  • For business based in Canada, a surcharge of 2.4% is applied.

Disclosure

In order to help you maintain compliance, your intent to surcharge will be automatically denoted on the popup that appears after a client clicks Pay now. Additionally, it will be noted again after the client clicks Review payment.

Check what clients see during the checkout process below for more information.

Payment type

Surcharging can only be applied to credit card transactions. Payments made with debit cards or ACH (bank transfers) cannot have a surcharge applied.

During the checkout process, after your client has selected to pay with card and entered their card details, Dubsado will automatically check to see if the card the client has provided is a credit card or debit card if surcharging is enabled.

  • If the card provided is a credit card, a surcharge will be added based on the payment total.

  • If the card provided is a debit card, a surcharge will not be added.

Transaction receipts

Transaction receipts, with the surcharge clearly itemized, are required per the regulations for surcharging, and Dubsado Payments has automatic transaction receipts enabled by default.

If surcharging is enabled, the transaction receipt will automatically display the itemized surcharge amount according to this regulation. See transaction receipts below for more information.

Refunds

If a surcharge is collected during payment and that payment is later refunded, the surcharge must also be refunded to the client.

When initiating a refund through Dubsado Payments, the surcharge amount will be automatically included in the refund if the original payment collected a surcharge. See how refunds with surcharges operate below for more information.

Updates

Dubsado has your back! We’re always staying on top of the latest rules and regulations when it comes to surcharging, so if and when there are any updates you’ll need to be aware of, we’ll make sure to keep you informed.


What you need to do to stay compliant

While Dubsado automatically manages many of your compliance concerns when it comes to surcharging, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of on your end. Check out the specifics of surcharging below.

Point of entry

In order to surcharge compliantly, your intent to surcharge must be disclosed at the “point of entry.” Your point of entry can be defined as wherever your accepted payment methods are first mentioned.

For some Dubsado users, the point of entry might be the business’s website. For others, it might be a Dubsado proposal.

No matter where you first mention your accepted payment methods, there are some specific guidelines for this disclosure that you’ll need to follow. Your disclosure must be:

  • in Arial font

  • at least 10 pt. in size

  • no smaller or less prominent than the surrounding text

Here’s are some example disclosure statements - feel free to use any of them!

“We impose a surcharge on credit cards that is not greater than our cost of acceptance.”

"A surcharge of [your surcharge rate] will be applied to all credit card purchases. You may avoid this additional cost if you choose to pay with debit card or ACH."

"A fee of [your surcharge rate] will be applied to all credit card transactions. Debit cards and ACH are not subject to the surcharge."

This disclosure, along with the above specifications, help ensure that your clients aren’t caught off-guard and that you’re surcharging in a transparent manner.

Additional fees

By enabling surcharging, you must agree not to add any similar additional fees - such as convenience fees, card acceptance fees, etc.

Business location

Since surcharging isn’t allowed in all regions of the United States, you’ll need to attest that the business address you’ve provided is accurate and honest. Should your business address change, you’ll need to update it by heading to Settings ➔ Payments and invoices ➔ Edit address.

Non-compliance

As a merchant participating in surcharging, it’s important to understand that failing to follow the above surcharging guidelines can result in fines being imposed upon you. Should this occur, you would be responsible to pay any fines relating to non-compliance.

Additionally, if Dubsado finds that your surcharging practices are non-compliant, we may decide to remove your access to our surcharging feature and take further action as necessary as outlined in our terms.


Getting started with surcharging

In order to utilize surcharging, you’ll need to be connected to Dubsado Payments powered by Stripe. When connected to Dubsado Payments, if your brand country is set to the United States or Canada, surcharging will appear as an option.

Follow the steps below to set up surcharging!

  1. Navigate to Settings ➔ Payments and invoices. Click Set up.

  2. Make sure you read and understand the limitations of surcharging. Then, click Continue.

  3. Input the address of where your business is legally registered. Once you’ve certified that you’ve accurately provided your business’s address, click Continue.

    1. If you entered in an address in a region that does not permitted surcharging, you won’t be able to proceed beyond this step.

  4. Click Continue after you have read and agree to the terms and conditions regarding surcharging.

  5. Read and agree to your responsibilities as a merchant implementing surcharging. Then, click Enable surcharging.

  6. Surcharging is now enabled! 🎉

You can toggle surcharging off or on at any time by heading back to Settings ➔ Payments and invoices. Your address will be saved, so you won’t need to re-onboard if you choose to turn surcharging off and then back on.

Should your business address change, you can also click Edit address to update your submitted address.


What clients see

Accepting payments from clients is streamlined and clear, even with surcharging enabled!

After your client clicks Pay Now, they’ll be able to select their payment method as normal. If they choose to pay with card, they can enter their card details and click Review payment.

Clicking Review payment takes the client to a payment confirmation screen, where Dubsado automatically checks if the card the client entered is a credit card or a debit card.

  • If the card the client entered is a credit card, a surcharge will be added and listed separately from the amount due.

  • If the card the client entered is a debit card, a surcharge will not be added, and the surcharge fee will be listed as “not applicable.”

Before submitting their payment, clients can click Change payment method if they’d like to use a different payment method. This option is required in order to surcharge compliantly and cannot be removed from your invoices.


Transaction receipts

Transaction receipts are part of our obligation to ensure our surcharging feature remains compliant with rules and regulations. Transaction receipts can’t be turned off or edited, even if you don’t have surcharging enabled.

Transaction receipts will be sent automatically after a payment is recorded and you won’t need to set this feature up whatsoever. Transaction receipts will be sent using your connected email address (Settings ➔ Emails).

Transaction receipts are exclusive to Dubsado Payments powered by Stripe, and are not available when connected with other payment processors.

Separate from Dubsado’s automatic transaction receipts, Stripe does also allow you to generate payment receipts for payments accepted through Stripe. Enabling Stripe’s receipts would result in your clients receiving duplicate receipts for payments accepted through Dubsado Payments.

If you created a brand new Stripe account to use with Dubsado Payments, or received a new Stripe Dashboard in your existing Stripe account for Dubsado Payments, Stripe’s receipts will be turned off by default; no further action is required.

If you had an existing Stripe account and you were able to use your existing Stripe Dashboard with Dubsado Payments, your Stripe receipt setting will remain unchanged.

  • This means that if you previously had Stripe receipts on, you may wish to turn this setting off to avoid a duplicate receipts being sent to your clients.


Refunds with surcharges

If you need to issue a refund on a transaction where a surcharge was applied, the surcharge that the client paid will be refunded back to them accordingly.

You won’t be able to keep the surcharge amount, and this is handled automatically when executing a refund.


FAQ

I’d like to surcharge in Dubsado, but my region isn’t supported. Why doesn’t Dubsado support surcharging in my region?

Our goal is to offer surcharging in a seamless and compliant manner to as many of our users as possible. But, due to outright prohibition in some regions and the complex regulations in others, we're currently unable to support this feature in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Puerto Rico.

While surcharging is not expressly prohibited in Maine and New York, these states have additional complex requirements around their surcharging laws which make compliance more challenging. Given that our top priority here is setting up our users for success and keeping them compliant, we’ve determined that we aren't currently able to accommodate for these additional requirements to allow for surcharging in Maine and New York.

We are committed to monitoring any changes in laws and regulations, and if the requirements in Maine or New York change to allow for a more streamlined compliance process, we will reevaluate our ability to support surcharging in these states.

In the meantime, we'd be happy to explore alternative options with you, such as adjusting your pricing to account for the cost of processing fees. You can also send our Customer Care team a chat and we’ll be happy to discuss your particular situation and options with you!

My region allows for a surcharge rate greater than 3%. Can I charge the higher surcharge rate?

With surcharging enabled, Dubsado automatically applies a surcharge equal to your average cost of payment acceptance when using Dubsado, up to the maximum allowable surcharge in their jurisdiction to all credit card transactions processed through Dubsado Payments. Our goal is to help you cover as much of your processing fees as possible, but given the complex nature of surcharging we have kept the rate-setting process streamlined to ensure you can surcharge compliantly.

Why does Dubsado’s surcharging feature only work with credit cards payments, and not with debit card or ACH payments?

Federal law prohibits direct surcharging on debit card transactions and bank transfers.

Does the surcharge fee show in my Dubsado bookkeeping?

Currently, surcharging fees will not appear within the Reporting section of your Dubsado account. For example, if a payment for $100 was received and the surcharge was $3, your Dubsado bookkeeping will only show $100 and not $103.

Additionally, it’s important to note that surcharging fees do not affect the amount reflected within payment plans.

We plan on exploring ways to automatically display your payment processing fees and surcharges in Dubsado bookkeeping in the future!

How can I tell if a transaction had a surcharge applied?

To see if a given payment had a surcharge applied, navigate to your Stripe Dashboard. Select a payment to view, and then check the metadata section. If a surcharge was collected, the has_surcharge property will be listed as “true.”

Will I be required to enter in my address for the transaction receipts that get sent to my clients?

In order to process payments with Dubsado Payments, you will be required to provide an address for your business. But, your address will not show on the transaction receipts.

Can I turn off the automatic transaction receipts?

No, this is aspect of Dubsado Payments is turned on by default and cannot be turned off - even if surcharging is not enabled in your brand. Transaction receipts are a legal requirement for surcharging.

Can I edit the automatic transaction receipt email or look?

While the content of these emails cannot be edited, the automatic transaction receipts will include your brand logo and the buttons will use your chosen brand color.

How does enabling surcharging impact my clients who are enrolled in autopay?

Enabling surcharging won’t have any affect on your existing autopay enrollments. In order to maintain compliance, clients need to have the surcharge disclosed to them when they enroll in autopay.

After surcharging is turned on, future autopay enrollments can have surcharges applied.

If you elect to turn surcharging off, any clients who agreed to surcharging when they enrolled in autopay will no longer have surcharges applied to their automatic payments.

How does surcharging work when clients change the payment method they’re using for autopay?

If a client switches from a credit card to a debit card, they won’t be surcharged on their next payment.

If a client switches from a debit card to a credit card, a surcharge will be applied on their next payment - so long as surcharging was enabled before they enrolled in autopay.

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