I was at the Galveston County Tax Office this week to register a new boat trailer and I noticed a sign that said there would be a “2.5 percent credit card charge and a $3 convenience charge on debit cards.”

I think we all know that businesses pay a percentage when using credit cards but not when using debit cards, so I am wondering what the justification is for the debit card charge. With a debit card, county officials know instantly if the transaction is approved, there are no bad checks and it costs the county nothing to provide this service.

It seems that this charge is unjustified and shouldn’t be added to the burden we carry as taxpayers in the county.

Henry Homrighaus

Texas City

(6) comments

Robert Buckner

The City of LaMarque uses a similar fee if residents want to pay their water bills using debit cards. Its just another way to gouge folks for money as private companies aren't allowed to do this from what I understand, it's reserved for public entities.

Norman Pappous

It does not matter if public or private entity. If you do not want a direct charge for the service then taxes will have to be raised in order to generate the revenue to pay for this type of service - it ain't free.... Expenses and revenues should be aligned and this does that.

Robert Buckner

The author of this letter makes a good point that if paying with a debit card, the entity has it's money immediately. The chance that a check may be stolen, insufficient funds, account closed, or whatever will delay those funds from being properly transferred and may incur more cost to collect. Strictly using cash carrys with it the risk of dishonest employees, person being robbed while trying to pay, lost, and of course many pay by mail. There's expenses associated with paying via cash and check too ( it must be counted and deposited), why not any associated fees with those transactions npappous?

Gary Miller

I'll bet some bureaucrat got a promotion for thinking up this scam.
Just another way to skim a little more from the private sector.
A tax increase that wasn't and can't be voted on.

Lars Faltskog

Whatever the companies, governmental entities, and businesses try to use as an excuse to add service charges, I simply won't do business with them if they do so.

As for requirement to register boats, etc...then, I'd bring cash. Seems like we shouldn't have to, but it's doubtful that people who register their boats/trailers or other register-required vehicles will be passionate enough to take time to coalesce and protest enough to change things. But, maybe someone can get such a campaign started.

Kevin Lang

I think it should be noted that the bank card issuers do charge a swipe fee for people accepting the bank cards. Most merchants do not pass along this charge directly to the customers--if it's passed on at all. While there may be a swipe fee, the merchant does benefit from the extra security in the transaction, the fact the money hits their bank almost immediately, the fact they don't have to lug cash and checks to the bank, and the ability to track purchases to specific customers to know buying habits.

I believe that you have to pay extra if you register your car or renew your Drivers License online using a bank card. Some gas stations have started charging people more for credit card purchase than for cash or "gift card" purchases. My HOA also allows us to pay our dues online if we're willing to pay an extra fee (I think it's around 10-20 dollars) for the convenience. I opt for the half buck convenience fee--the price of a stamp and envelope--and mail them a check.

If the government entities can prove that it costs them that much to process bank card payments, then I would say that it's appropriate for them to charge the fee. People who pay cash or with checks shouldn't have to subsidize those that use payment instruments that cost more to handle. But, if the fee becomes a profit center (I'm OK if a 3 cent swipe fee gets rounded up to a nickel charge, for instance, but not a quarter getting rounded up to $25), then I'm with IHOG and Robert.

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