Although it is common in some establishments, charging the consumer extra for making a card payment is illegal. This has recently been confirmed by FACUA-Consumers in Action, which has sued the Averroes Hotel in Malaga for increasing the prices of its restaurant by 10% to customers who paid with this method and for not having complaint forms. 

“There is a rule that raises this illegality,” explains Rubén Sánchez, general secretary of the organization. This is Royal Decree-Law 8/2014, of July 4, approving urgent measures for growth, competitiveness and efficiency, where “companies benefiting from the payment are prohibited from transferring any type of expense or additional fees for the use of the debit or credit card”.

Article 12, which establishes the “prohibition of the transfer of expenses to the payer”, also indicates that “the payment of additional expenses or fees for the use of the debit or credit card” may not be required. The association learned through several partners of this irregularity and that the establishment indicated in the letter that “card payments will increase by 10%”, which led them to file a complaint with the Consumer Service of the Board from Andalusia.

The organization has also uncovered other malpractice by the Malaga company, which did not have complaint and claim forms. “The people who requested them after being charged that 10% extra only received a photocopy of the ‘copy for the claimed party’, so they would also be violating Decree 82/2022, of May 17, which regulate the complaint and claim forms of consumers and users in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia,” FACUA points out. 

Consumer organizations point out that summer is a time when certain hoteliers take advantage of the large influx to carry out some “traps.” We asked Rubén Sánchez about some of them, taking advantage of the fact that there are only a few weeks left until this new season starts. 

Can they force you to pay a minimum for using a card? Sánchez explains that this practice does not necessarily have to be illegal. “Illegality is linked to increasing the price for using a card or cash. That is, because that extra payment is due to the payment method,” he insists. 

And charge you for an appetizer or a basket of bread that you didn’t order? According to the activist, they can charge you for both as long as they are on the price list. “What would be illegal is for them to force you to pay it if you state that you don’t want it,” he clarifies. 

And for sharing a plate? Last year, several consumers reported that they had been overcharged for sharing a plate in Italian cities. “It is also illegal,” they say from FACUA-Consumers in Action. 

Is it legal to require you to pay for cutlery separately? “It’s not,” says Sánchez, nor can they charge you more because the table has a tablecloth. 

Can they force you to pay more to consume on the terrace? “It is allowed for the price on the terrace to be different from that of the bar or room,” he says. However, this extra percentage or the price list adapted to the terrace must always be indicated in the menu, so that the consumer is informed.