DEFINITION of 'Surcharge'

A fee or other charge that is added to the cost of a good or service. A surcharge is typically added to an existing tax, and may not be included in the stated price of a good or service. It may be a temporary measure to defray the cost of increased commodity pricing, such as with a fuel surcharge, or it may be permanent. A surcharge does not have to be imposed by the government.


Businesses use surcharges to shift additional costs to consumers. For example, when gas prices are high, taxi companies may add a fuel surcharge of $1 to cover the increased fuel cost. Some surcharges are not included in the listed price of a good or service, requiring consumers to pay attention to the final bill or risk paying more than they bargained for.

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