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Credit Card Use Could Come at a Cost in Buffalo Grove

As Buffalo Grove prepares to accept online credit card payments for water and other bills, officials must decide who should pay the convenience fees.

Buffalo Grove residents will soon be able to pay certain village bills by credit card, but the convenience could come at a cost. 

Village officials discussed this week whether credit card users should incur the surcharge that businesses typically absorb.

If the village covered those fees, Buffalo Grove could be hit with $11,250 in fees for every 5 percent of utility account holders who opt for credit card payments, Finance Director Scott Anderson said during a Feb. 25 committee of the whole meeting.

That cost would total, for instance, $45,000 if 20 percent of the village’s customers opt to pay their utility bills with credit. The cost is based on estimated fees of 2 to 2.5 percent, Anderson said.

Because the village has never accepted credit cards, officials said it’s not known what percentage of customers might opt for that payment method. The prospect of earning credit card rewards might attract more users than expected, officials said, which would generate higher usage fees for the village. But if Buffalo Grove passes those fees on to residents, it might deter credit card payments, they added. 

Trustee Steve Trilling suggested that the village should continue to promote automatic debit payments, which will remain a payment option for account holders.

He also said he’d support charging credit card fees back to card users.

“If we did not charge a credit card fee, I’d be one of those people who would move to the credit card [to accumulate rewards], he said. “You have to charge the fees.”

“It’s a convenience we’re giving customers. It makes sense to pass the fee along,” Trustee Jeff Berman agreed.

Water will be the first bill that Buffalo Grove’s customers will have the option of paying online by credit card. Online payment options could later be offered for such fees as pet licenses and liquor licenses.

The village has not yet finalized which expenses will be payable by credit card. Trustees will consider an ordinance regarding credit card convenience fees at an upcoming Village Board meeting. 

Would you pay utility bills or other village fees by credit card? Would the inclusion of a convenience fee play a role in your decision? Tell us in the comment section below.

Karen Palmer February 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM
The Village needs to take a more holistic view and remember that credit cards are a convenience for them as well. Setting up recurring billing ensures the bills are paid and paid on time. I respectfully ask the Village to quantify how much it costs to print an invoice and two envelopes, mail it out, slit open an envelope, separate the remit stub from a paper check, match back the stub to the check, image the check, credit the account and then wait the three days for the funds to clear. Evaluating these "convenience" fees on behalf of the payee are only part of the cost. Electronic billing and acceptance of credit cards could reduce the cost for all us.
J February 28, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Sounds good to me. Other governmental agencies do the same so B.G. is not unique in that way. For example, renewing you vehicle sticker by phone(w/credit card), Some religious organizations,do as well. Another option is to build a software application or purchase 3rd party vendor software to allow for residents to be able to choose if they want a paper bill or electronic version of their bill as well as to set up a reoccurring charge (as suggested by Karen from above). This would also allow for reminder emails to alert the resident that their bill is due soon and when it is received and applied.
Max Tolsky February 28, 2013 at 04:25 PM
I pay a lot of my utility bills with a credit card, but only the ones that do not charge a fee for it. If you charge a 2 or 3% convenience fee that wipes out all of the reward points you earn on the credit card.
Jennifer February 28, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Amen!
Jennifer February 28, 2013 at 06:31 PM
"It's a convenience we're giving our customers. It makes sense to pass the fee along" - PUH-LEASE, are you kidding me? A "convenience"? At this day in time, credit cards are no longer a "convenience", they are THE STANDARD. BG is living in an archaic time of using envelopes and checks. I haven't written a check in YEARS. I absolutely agree with Karen above, how much does it cost to print the invoices and provide envelopes and mail? To offset the cost, why not consider total online billing - meaning allow cusomters to opt-in to online bills and online paying (free if registered to receive online bills). This is what many others are doing right now. I also agree with Max above, where I only pay the ones that don't charge a fee. I would consider paying a fee if it were like $1-$2, but absolutely no more.
sankar March 01, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Village of Palatine allows payment thru credit card at no extra cost. Maybe BG can discuss with them?
Recall Supporter March 01, 2013 at 03:31 PM
The only benefit I see by using a credit card to pay my water bill is to get the miles and/or reward points. I would never consider paying a fee. What a crock and waste of money. As a result, I'll continue to use my Chase bill pay and they can receive a paper check 5 days later.
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