One of the fees retailers are charged for accepting debit and credit cards is being halved from today, which could save retailers over €36m a year.

The "interchange fees" banks charge retailers for accepting debit and credit cards will be capped, which will result in significant savings in fees for retailers.

Interchange fees are charged by a card holder's bank to a retailer for both debit and credit card transactions. 

They do not impact consumers directly, though they might affect consumers indirectly through higher prices and a lower willingness by some retailers to accept card payments.

A maximum limit is now being set on interchange fees for both debit and credit cards. 

For debit cards, the maximum for domestic debit card transactions is to be set at 0.1% of the transaction value, half the current level. 

The maximum for domestic credit card transactions is to be set at 0.3% - in line with the Interchange Fee Regulation. 

Combined, these measures will save retailers in excess of €36m a year, a statement from the Department of Finance said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the cut in fees will significantly reduce the cost to ordinary retailers of accepting card payments.

However he urged retailers to shop-around and make sure that they are getting the best possible deal from their card-machine provider if they are going to get the full benefits of the reductions.

The Minister noted that Ireland now has one of the lowest rates of debit card interchange in Europe following these changes, which were first announced in Budget 2016. 

He also said he was urging retailers to remove the minimum spend on card payments.

"Retailers should be aware that most shoppers have a contactless card in their wallets which can be used for transactions up to €30. It is cheaper and faster than any other way to pay, both for the retailer and the consumer," the Minster said. 

These changes are designed to facilitate card payments, they do not disadvantage any customer who prefers to use cash or other payment methods, he added.