NSW Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge has urged on the state’s retailers to fully disclose how they determine credit card surcharges after research into the fees showed potential price gouging.

The investigation and survey, conducted by Choice on behalf of the NSW Government, found that 68 per cent of respondents do not believe retailers and other businesses should be allowed to charge extra to those who choose to pay with plastic.

Judge said she is concerned by the level of inconsistency in the charges and the way they are applied.

“When the Reserve Bank reforms in 2003 allowed credit card charges to apply, the initial take up by traders was low and the rate itself was generally low – usually around one per cent,” she said.

“Now, surcharges can be as high as 10 per cent or more and the practice of charging has increased significantly, without the extra cost being clearly explained.

“Some businesses add on the same surcharge for all cards, even though each card may have different processing costs.”

The latest Reserve Bank (RBA) figures reveal the number of merchants surcharging has risen steeply over the past few years, with 20 per cent of smaller merchants and 40 per cent of larger businesses now surcharging their customers.

It also showed surcharges were most likely to apply when paying for services such as air travel, telecommunications, restaurants, accommodation, utilities, taxis and petrol.

Judge said the survey showed the need for retailers to provide more transparency with surcharges.

The report has now been provided to the Commonwealth’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, responsible for competition policy and consumer affairs, David Bradbury.