Imagine a customer bringing an item that retails for $50 up to a register, then suddenly finding out that they will be charged an additional $2.50 for paying with a credit card. That individual is likely to be unhappy upon hearing this news – and rightfully so. No one likes unexpected charges.

As a result of a multibillion dollar settlement between between major credit card companies and banks and roughly seven million merchants throughout the U.S., retailers in some states will now have the option of charging surcharges on purchases made by credit card.

The New York Times reports that the lawsuit was filed due to allegations that some card companies and the banks that back them engaged in price-fixing to charge higher than reasonable fees for processing credit and debit payments, and prohibited merchants from advocating other forms of payment to their customers.

However, the likelihood that retailers will begin to tack on these surcharges is still in question. The news source reports that 10 states currently ban such fees, and therefore national companies that operate locations in those areas will not be able to impose them. Furthermore, the article cites analysts who say this may simply be used as leverage when negotiating better processing fees with the card companies and banks.

"While there can always be exceptions, merchants in general have no intention of surcharging," Craig Sherman, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, told The Times. It should also be noted that the Federation was not involved in the lawsuit.

The bottom line is no one is happy when they realize they have been assessed hidden fees. Consumers don't like it and neither do retailers. That's why every opportunity to avoid such unpleasantness should be explored. Credit card processing software providers that are upfront about one-time fees and do not layer in additional hidden charges can literally save businesses thousands of dollars or more every year.