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Common questions about online payments

The City of Boston offers constituents easy and convenient options for making online payments through multiple third-party service providers. These third-party service providers may assess a service fee for processing these payments.

What is a service fee?

A service fee is the amount a third-party provider charges to process a:

  • credit or debit card, or
  • Automated Clearing House (ACH ) transactions on the City's behalf.

These transactions have associated costs, including interchange fees paid to your bank and assessment fees paid to the network associations (AMEX, Discover, MasterCard and Visa). 

How much is the fee?

The service fee varies based on the third-party vendor procured by the City processing the transaction. The fee amount will be displayed before finalizing your purchase and reflected separately on your receipt.

Fee amounts:

Death certificates: Payments made by credit card will incur a non-refundable service fee of 2.10% of the total transaction amount plus $0.25 per transaction. Payments made by debit card will incur a non-refundable service fee of 1.50% of the total transaction amount plus $0.25 per transaction. Payments made by ACH will incur a $0.30 service fee per transaction.

Other online payments: Payments made by electronic check/ACH are not subject to a service fee. However, payments made by debit or credit card will incur a non-refundable service fee of 2.75% of the total payment amount ($1.00 minimum).

Long-term, we’re working to standardize fees as much as we can, as well as to negotiate the lowest fees possible.

Fee questions

Why don’t I see fees like this when I use my credit cards in other places?

Merchants who sell online often charge a convenience fee (like movie theaters or concert venues) while other merchants choose to build the fee directly into their pricing. Our transactions will let you know how much you are paying the City, and how much is being paid to a third party.

Is the City getting any extra money from this fee?

No. At no time does this fee enter the City's records or does it receive any of the monies. The City is constantly procuring vendors to obtain the lowest fees for the services.

Is there any way I can avoid the fee?

Online and in-person transactions paid with a credit or debit card will incur a service fee, while some ACH transactions are free. You can also pay at City Hall with cash or send a check to avoid the fee.

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