Using a credit card? Watch out for the 'checkout fee'


(CNN Money) -- You might want to think twice before whipping out your credit card because as of Sunday, stores in most states could start charging you a "checkout fee" when you pay for something in plastic.

Visa, MasterCard and nine major banks agreed to a $.725 billion deal to settle charges that they were fixing credit card processing fees. As part of the settlement, credit card issuers said they would reduce these "swipe fees" -- fees paid by merchants to issuers when cards are used -- but only for eight months.

In addition, the settlement also gave retailers the option to tack on a surcharge if a customer uses a credit card. The retailer can only charge enough to cover the processing costs, which is about 1.5% to 3% of the total purchase, according to watchdog group Consumer Action.

This fee doesn't apply to purchases made using debit cards. And it will still be illegal to charge the new fee in 10 states, including New York, California and Texas. It is legal to charge the fee in the state of Washington.

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