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"If anyone is likely to implement a fee on customers, it's going to be small operations like family-owned restaurants and retail shops because that swipe fee is a significant cost to them, it really hurts them," he says.The swipe fees cover the expense of processing cards and the risk of fraud, but merchants say they are being overcharged.

"I do think a certain percentage of people will refuse to pay, but what's more important is that the people in the poll are sending a clear message to retailers: Don't pull this on me." Will retailers impose a surcharge anyway?

That kind of negative reaction may prompt many retailers to keep the status quo or to consider the cash discount system now used by some gas stations rather than surcharges, Manning says.

Visa and Master Card have long banned such surcharges at businesses that accept their cards, but they recently agreed to abolish that rule as part of the settlement of a long-standing class-action lawsuit.

If finalized, the settlement will free up retailers to impose a fee on their customers, possibly in early 2013, to help recoup the so-called "swipe fees" they have to pay every time a customer pays with a credit card.

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So they might be willing to pay a fee." Other highlights of the poll: Larry Compeau, a professor of consumer behavior at Clarkson University, said the numbers don't surprise him.

"It's a lot easier to say you won't pay a fee in a telephone survey than it is to actually follow through when you're standing at the checkout and you realize you don't have cash," he notes.

In the survey, the younger the respondent, the less willing they were to stop using their card.

(See infographic, "Would you be willing to pay a credit card surcharge?

"I suspect surcharges to emerge mostly in situations where there's a lot of price sensitivity, where consumers really compare prices.

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