Convenience retailers that pay their income tax and vehicle tax bills by credit and debit card will no longer have to pay “rip-off” surcharges from next year.

The Treasury announced today [Wednesday] that such “unfair” charges would be consigned to history. Retailers will not be able to add a surcharge for low payments but they can still enforce minimum payment amounts.

It said surcharging was common practice across the country, including by local councils and government agencies as well as by shops, airlines and other services.

Stephen Barclay, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Rip-off charges have no place in a modern Britain and that’s why card charging in Britain is about to come to an end.

“This is about fairness and transparency, and so from next year there will be no more nasty surprises for people at the check-out just for using a card.”

The Treasury said the government had previously capped the costs that businesses faced for processing card payments, and would engage with retailers to assess if there was any more that could be done to help.

The changes, under the second Payment Services Directive, will take effect from 13 January.