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We were one of the first auctioneers (1993) to accept credit cards at all our auctions including even on-site auctions with no landline phone service: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/credit-card-surcharge-mess-for-auctioneers/.

When auctioneers first started taking credit cards at auctions, merchants (auctioneers) were not permitted to upcharge (surcharge) for credit card purchases — and as such many auctioneers discounted purchases made with cash or check, indirectly surcharging nonetheless.

Now, and generally speaking, those limitations have been eliminated. Yet, there are specific rules about uniformity by card type, debit cards, gift cards, etc. However, there are also limitations per state law. Some states have enacted laws that prohibit surcharging for credit card use.

If you are an auctioneer accepting credit cards, debit cards, and/or gift cards for purchases, be sure to check two places to determine if you can surcharge for their use:

  1. Your merchant processor’s rules.
  2. Your state law.

Accepting credit, debit and other cards in addition to cash and other payment types is almost essential for any auctioneer. In 2021, over 80% of consumers preferred paying by card over cash or check. Especially for personal property auctioneers, credit/debit card acceptance is now essentially considered a required agency duty.

As we noted in our writing (link above) credit card surcharging (processing) rules are a mess — varying by card type, location, and a myriad of other merchant dictates. As an auctioneer, it pays to know all the rules which affect the acceptance of credit, debit, and gift cards, and with accompanying state laws.

Lastly, I hope it goes without saying to treat all your bidders to the same terms and conditions, set prior to the auction. We’ve attempted to note that acting arbitrary and/or capricious is clearly perilous: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/02/09/setting-your-auction-bidder-criteria/.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.