What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

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protagonist
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What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by protagonist » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:21 pm

My city uses a third party (Unipay) to process credit card transactions for real estate tax, utility bills, parking tickets, etc.
Unipay charges usurious "convenience fees"- often 10-25% of the total bill and sometimes even more. I imagine the city sees none of that, on top of which Unipay gets to mine data.

1. What magnitude of "convenience fee", if any, do you have to pay when you pay your cities' bills with credit cards?
2. Does the city get the fee, or does it go through a third party biller?
3. Why would cities use companies like Unipay? Is there an issue for municipalities with billing directly through Visa or Mastercard ? I would think they could just pass on what they pay to the credit card company to the consumer as a modest fee, even tacking on a bit more so the city makes money.

I want to address this issue with our mayor and city council, and am looking for examples from other cities. If you feel comfortable naming your city that would be helpful. If you would rather not for privacy reasons that is ok as well.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by protagonist on Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KNomad
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by KNomad » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:38 pm

My city uses this site for utility billing- https://www.municipalonlinepayments.com ... /utilities

It doesn't charge a fee for using a credit card. It's easy to use, but I do wish I could get an email alert when my bill is due (we only get billed 4x per year).

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FlyAF
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by FlyAF » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm

My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed

protagonist
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by protagonist » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?

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HueyLD
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by HueyLD » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:47 pm

My county charges a 2% fee on credit or debit card payments. In addition, such payments must be made in person at their downtown office. Essentially it is a non-starter.

It also charges a $0.50 fee for online payments by bank account.

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FlyAF
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by FlyAF » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm

protagonist wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?
Yes, no matter what my water bill is, if I want to use a cc/debit card to pay my monthly bill online, they charge 2 bucks. I can't even just have my bank send a check because they require their "stub" with the check. So I had to order checks from my bank and hand write a check every month to pay my dam water bill. I hate it if it's not obvious, but I'm not just going to get into the practice of giving away money.

Texanbybirth
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:52 pm

No fee, yet. Sucks that city's are starting to charge for it, but I guess they're just trying to recoup costs.

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dm200
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by dm200 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:11 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:52 pm
No fee, yet. Sucks that city's are starting to charge for it, but I guess they're just trying to recoup costs.
Seems as though online or electronic billing would be lower overall cost for the municipality than folks going in person with a wad of cash.

Globalviewer58
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Globalviewer58 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:12 pm

Our city uses ACH for water/ sewer bills and no service fee is added.

For online property tax payments made via Central Processing Corporation, a fee of 2.95% is charged with a minimum fee of $1.95 per transaction. For ACH/ e-check transactions, a $0.95 service fee is charged.

fsrph
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by fsrph » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:22 pm

Charge is 2.5%.
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quantAndHold
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:14 pm

The city? Nothing.

The county charges $2 to pay the property tax bill by CC. $2. For a $2000 bill. No idea who gets the $2. I get $30 in CC rewards, so I just deal with it.

bob60014
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by bob60014 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:25 pm

2% , which is basically the swipe fee the credit card company charges the city

adamthesmythe
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:48 pm

So why not pay by check? Or electronic payment??

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whodidntante
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by whodidntante » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:47 pm

2.35% for property tax. I have a card that pays 2.625% on all spend, so it's still a negative fee.

JBTX
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by JBTX » Thu Nov 15, 2018 7:50 pm

For property tax a little over 2.0%. I used it last year to pay a big chunk of a $1000 reward bonus business card with $10000 spend. I'll probably do something similar this year.

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Bogle7
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convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Bogle7 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:44 pm

Zero.
I pay my property tax with a credit card and collect miles.

The public water utility charges zero.

The investor-owned electric/gas utility charges $3.50 per transaction. So, I pay $1000 at a time.

BSBHead
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by BSBHead » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:07 pm

Unipay is probably a payment aggregator using its payment gateway to access the Visa/MC network. I'm sure there is a rebate back to the City. Not sure about my city, but our state charges a 2.5% fee for credit cards, which is approximately equal to the interchange fees charged by the card networks.

The dirty secret of credit cards is the more people use them, the more likely you'll see these kind of fees given the interchange costs. If they don't charge the fee directly, merchants are certainly baking the interchange costs indirectly through the price of the product/service. Rewards cards charge these merchants a higher interchange given the card networks are paying points/miles back to the card users, so the more rewards cards are used, the greater the likelihood the fee is baked into the price of the product in some capacity. Needless to say, we're basically trading dollars as your rewards are offset by the higher price from the interchange built into the product/service.

So you basically want a scenario where you are the only one using the reward card!

AlphaLess
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by AlphaLess » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:22 pm

For small charges, it is usually $2 or $2.50 or $1.95.

For larger dollar amounts, it is typically less than 2%.

I often pay property taxes using brand new CCs for sign-on bonus.
E.g., $5K bill to one credit card satisfies the $5K spend, and gives me 70K points / miles.
Value of 70K miles: $1-1.4K after tax, cost: $100.
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biscuits
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by biscuits » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:22 am

My city recently started using Paymentus for water bill payments. No fee, and I can set up auto-pay. I like it!

https://www.paymentus.com

daheld
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by daheld » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:11 am

The only thing managed by our city is water, and we have an automatic bank draft set up each month so there's no fee. I'm not sure about if we used a CC.

However, this is relevant because I just received and paid our yearly real estate tax bill last night. Total RE tax was $3800. I got online to pay and it said there'd be a $3.95 convenience fee, which I'll gladly pay to get it over with and have immediate confirmation that all is well. I got to the final screen before actual payment and there was like $95 (2.5%!!) of service fees added on this very last screen. I immediately cancelled and ran it as a bank draft straight from our checking account for zero fees.

tim1999
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by tim1999 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:14 am

2%, so I pay by check.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:25 am

I don't live in the city, but the county in which I live does accept credit cards for property tax payments. They charge what they call a "convenience fee", which by my math applied to my recently paid property tax statement works out to around 2-3%. According to the county's web site, they do not receive any of this "convenience fee", it all goes to the payment processor; they state that the county "does not benefit from this fee".

Charging a 10% fee simply for accepting tax payment via credit card strikes me as borderline (or perhaps blatant) larceny.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

goaties
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by goaties » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:26 am

"The fee is currently a minimum of $2.00 or 2.65% of the amount paid, whichever is greater, on all credit and debit card transactions. For payments made using a Visa Consumer Debit Card, the convenience fee charged will be a flat fee of $3.95."

Free to let them draft directly from checking or to do an e-check.

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PrettyCoolWorkshop
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by PrettyCoolWorkshop » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:41 am

FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm
protagonist wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?
Yes, no matter what my water bill is, if I want to use a cc/debit card to pay my monthly bill online, they charge 2 bucks. I can't even just have my bank send a check because they require their "stub" with the check. So I had to order checks from my bank and hand write a check every month to pay my dam water bill. I hate it if it's not obvious, but I'm not just going to get into the practice of giving away money.
FlyAF, you can possibly earn more on the credit card points than you paid for the transaction. The Citi Double Cash card gives 2% cash back on all transactions and is the best card I know of for paying normal bills, and is my default card for all transactions. If your water bill is $100 or more, you would receive $2 or more back. That does sound like a pretty steep water bill for that to be true, though, my own water bill is ~$70. You could also batch your water bills by overpaying every other month or every 4 months, etc. so that a larger lump can "absorb" the $2 fee. Might be less hassle than sending in a check. Or might be more depending on your inclination.
Be greedy and fearful. All the time.

tibbitts
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by tibbitts » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:48 am

PrettyCoolWorkshop wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:41 am
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm
protagonist wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?
Yes, no matter what my water bill is, if I want to use a cc/debit card to pay my monthly bill online, they charge 2 bucks. I can't even just have my bank send a check because they require their "stub" with the check. So I had to order checks from my bank and hand write a check every month to pay my dam water bill. I hate it if it's not obvious, but I'm not just going to get into the practice of giving away money.
FlyAF, you can possibly earn more on the credit card points than you paid for the transaction. The Citi Double Cash card gives 2% cash back on all transactions and is the best card I know of for paying normal bills, and is my default card for all transactions. If your water bill is $100 or more, you would receive $2 or more back. That does sound like a pretty steep water bill for that to be true, though, my own water bill is ~$70. You could also batch your water bills by overpaying every other month or every 4 months, etc. so that a larger lump can "absorb" the $2 fee. Might be less hassle than sending in a check. Or might be more depending on your inclination.
You have to figure short-term interest rates into the equation too, if prepaying - what might have made sense at 1% might not have back in the 6% short-term-rate days.

tibbitts
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by tibbitts » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:52 am

FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm
protagonist wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?
Yes, no matter what my water bill is, if I want to use a cc/debit card to pay my monthly bill online, they charge 2 bucks. I can't even just have my bank send a check because they require their "stub" with the check. So I had to order checks from my bank and hand write a check every month to pay my dam water bill. I hate it if it's not obvious, but I'm not just going to get into the practice of giving away money.
I called and for some of my bills they were okay with noting the account number on an e-check - you might ask if you haven't. Of course the bank has to USmail the check so some time is required, at least a week or so.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Rob5TCP » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:56 am

The rental unit I own in Florida charges a $2.50 convenience fee to pay the water bill. Since that amounts to about 7%; I pay it ever other month. This reduced to about 3.5% less the 2% I get back on my c.c.

To save a few dollars every year, I wouldn't send a check.
I am considering sending a much larger check every quarter or so.
The lost interest would be nominal.

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VictoriaF
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:59 am

The Arlington County Park system has recently started charging 2.5% for using credit cards to enroll in their gym memberships and fitness programs. These programs are a great bargain and the fee seems negligible.

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HueyLD
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by HueyLD » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:06 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:59 am
The Arlington County Park system has recently started charging 2.5% for using credit cards to enroll in their gym memberships and fitness programs. These programs are a great bargain and the fee seems negligible.

Victoria
Yes, fees are not necessarily bad as long as the overall price is a good value.

arf30
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by arf30 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:08 am

My HOA charges $3 + 3.5% if you pay dues via credit card and a $3 flat fee for ACH, luckily I can send an electronic payment for free through the bank's bill pay. I haven't heard anyone in the community complain about it, so I guess it's not a big deal, or maybe people are still mailing checks, which I would think is more overhead for the association than electronic payments.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:14 am

So far my city hasn't started charging for using a credit card. The city provides water, sewer, two garbage pickups/week, and another pickup of yard waste/recyclables.

I actually get rewarded 2% to charge my utility bill.

Broken Man 1999
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dm200
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by dm200 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:52 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:59 am
The Arlington County Park system has recently started charging 2.5% for using credit cards to enroll in their gym memberships and fitness programs. These programs are a great bargain and the fee seems negligible.
Victoria
Yes - my wife and I enroll for $90 annually for both of us, since we are over 65.

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dm200
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by dm200 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:54 am

I "love" the term "convenience fee". Seems like it is more "convenient" for the entity getting the fee than for the person paying it! ;)

annielouise
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by annielouise » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:20 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:14 am
So far my city hasn't started charging for using a credit card. The city provides water, sewer, two garbage pickups/week, and another pickup of yard waste/recyclables.

I actually get rewarded 2% to charge my utility bill.

Broken Man 1999
This is just like my city.

The only time I pay a convenience fee is DMV related costs (my memory is that going there is the only way to avoid the fee, even mailing in a check has a fee). Otherwise I use checks or e-checks if there is a CC fee.

cookieid
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by cookieid » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:52 am

For property tax if you pay by eCheck or ACH they charge $1.80 per transaction, and if you pay by debit or credit card they charge 2.50% or $2 min. They contract out the online pay system and it’s the contractor who charges these fees. So no they don't get the fees.
Water service is a separate entity with their own online pay system and they don't charge fees.
Parking tickets don't exist here - small town with plenty of free parking spaces.

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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by gd » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:33 am

Credit and debit cards have 2.95% fee, $1 minimum. eChecks free. Fees to company the town uses. Was going to list the company until I noticed you give no info whatsoever on your location and it's a regional company. Works both ways... I usually pay with my local bank's bill pay service, or go to the town hall for the candy bowl at the desk.

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Artful Dodger
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by Artful Dodger » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:09 pm

2.35% / $1.00 minimum
Most of our water / sewer bills are $60-80, probably $1.50 to $1.75 per bill.

sco
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by sco » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:29 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:51 pm
protagonist wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:44 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:41 pm
My city water utility charges $2.00 per transaction. I pay by check now that they've implemented it. :annoyed
$2 per credit card transaction regardless of the amount due?
Yes, no matter what my water bill is, if I want to use a cc/debit card to pay my monthly bill online, they charge 2 bucks. I can't even just have my bank send a check because they require their "stub" with the check. So I had to order checks from my bank and hand write a check every month to pay my dam water bill. I hate it if it's not obvious, but I'm not just going to get into the practice of giving away money.
charge $200, pay the 2 bucks. Get $4 back on a 2% card and don't worry about it for a while :)

sco
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by sco » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:31 pm

dm200 wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:11 pm
Texanbybirth wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:52 pm
No fee, yet. Sucks that city's are starting to charge for it, but I guess they're just trying to recoup costs.
Seems as though online or electronic billing would be lower overall cost for the municipality than folks going in person with a wad of cash.
That would only be true if they would actually be able to reduce their salary costs by accepting credit cards. And they aren't firing anyone....

amitb00
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by amitb00 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:42 pm

I live in Miramar, Florida. They charge 2% if I use a credit card to pay dues. Checking account is no fee.

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beyou
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Re: What convenience fees does your city charge for credit card use?

Post by beyou » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:47 pm

For prop taxes we can pay (or avoid by mailing in a paper check), as per their schedule :

What are the convenience fees associated with online payments?
ACH Check Fees Are:
$1.75 for payments up to $50,000
$3.00 for payments between $50,000.01 and $75,000

2.45% with a minimum of $1.95 for MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express cards.
$3.95 for Visa Debit Cards.

State law mandates that the Town receives no portion of the convenience fee – this fee is retained by the payment processing vendors enabling the transaction.

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