Yes, You Can Do Dual Pricing in Maine!


Yes, You Can Do Dual Pricing in Maine!

By Chris Austin, President of Ardiah Managed Services

As a business owner, you’ve likely noticed the rising costs of accepting credit card payments. The fees associated with credit card processing can eat into your profits, especially in today’s tight-margin environment. In Maine, business owners face additional challenges due to state laws that make certain cost-recovery strategies illegal.

You may have heard about surcharging as a way to offset these costs. However, surcharging—adding a fee to a customer’s bill when they pay with a credit card—is illegal in Maine. This restriction leaves many business owners searching for alternative ways to manage these expenses. Fortunately, there’s a legal and effective strategy: dual pricing.


Understanding Dual Pricing vs. Surcharging


Surcharging: The No-Go in Maine

Surcharging involves adding an extra fee to a customer’s bill if they choose to pay with a credit card. The idea is to cover the merchant’s credit card processing fees. While this practice is allowed in many states, Maine explicitly prohibits it. Here’s why:

  1. Consumer Protection: Maine’s laws are designed to protect consumers from unexpected charges at the point of sale.
  2. Transparency: Surcharging can be seen as misleading, as customers may feel they’re being penalized for using a convenient payment method.

Given these restrictions, businesses in Maine must find alternative methods to handle credit card processing costs without running afoul of the law.

Dual Pricing: A Legal and Transparent Solution

Dual pricing is a straightforward, consumer-friendly approach that can help you manage payment processing fees while complying with Maine law. Here’s how it works:

  1. Display Two Prices: With dual pricing, you display two different prices: one for cash payments and one for credit card payments. For example, a cup of coffee might cost $2.50 for cash and $2.60 for credit card payments.
  2. Encourage Cash Payments: This method encourages customers to pay with cash, helping you avoid the credit card processing fee altogether. It’s a transparent way to show customers that credit card transactions come with additional costs.

Dual pricing is different from surcharging because it does not add a fee at the time of the transaction. Instead, it clearly presents two options upfront, allowing customers to choose the payment method that best suits their preferences.


Why Consider Dual Pricing?


Benefits for Your Business

  1. Cost Recovery: Dual pricing helps you recover the cost of credit card processing fees without violating Maine’s laws.
  2. Customer Choice: It gives customers a clear choice and fosters transparency in pricing.
  3. Increased Cash Flow: Encouraging cash payments can boost your cash flow and reduce the percentage of sales lost to processing fees.

How to Implement Dual Pricing

Implementing dual pricing in your business requires careful planning and clear communication. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Review Your Pricing Strategy: Analyze your current pricing structure to determine how to incorporate dual pricing. Ensure that the credit card price covers the additional costs while remaining competitive.
  2. Update Your Signage: Clearly display both prices on all signage and menus. Make sure your customers understand why there are two different prices.
  3. Train Your Staff: Ensure your employees can explain the dual pricing policy to customers. They should be prepared to answer any questions and help customers understand the benefits of each option.
  4. Update Your Point-of-Sale System: Work with your POS provider to ensure your system can handle dual pricing. Many modern systems can accommodate multiple pricing tiers.

Dual Pricing and Customer Relations

While dual pricing is a legal and effective way to manage credit card processing costs, it’s important to maintain good customer relations. Here are a few tips:

  • Be Transparent: Make sure customers know about your dual pricing policy before they decide how to pay. Transparency builds trust and helps avoid misunderstandings.
  • Focus on Benefits: Highlight the advantages of each payment method. For instance, paying with cash might be quicker, and credit cards offer the convenience of not needing to carry cash.
  • Stay Competitive: Ensure your prices remain competitive even with dual pricing. Customers should still feel they are getting good value for their money, regardless of how they choose to pay.


Navigating the complexities of credit card processing fees in Maine can be challenging, but dual pricing offers a viable solution. By adopting this approach, you can legally and transparently manage your costs while providing customers with clear choices.

At Ardiah Managed Services, we understand the financial pressures that small businesses face. We’re here to help you implement effective strategies like dual pricing to keep your business running smoothly and profitably. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your business.

Chris Austin
President, Ardiah Managed Services

If you have any questions or need assistance with dual pricing or any other business management strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ardiah Managed Services. We’re here to help you succeed in every aspect of your business operations.

About the Author: Chris Austin is passionate about supporting small businesses and is the President of Ardiah Managed Services, a trusted provider of accounting, payment solutions, POS systems, payroll, and tax services. Chris and his team are dedicated to helping small businesses thrive by delivering tailored solutions and personalized support. If you have a small business support or service need, they would love to help! 207-230-4576 or email: [email protected]

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