Clerk: credit or debit?

August 31, 2009
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Welcome to the 21st (or even arguably the 20th) century, Marion County Clerk’s Office! The clerk’s office announced late last week it’s now accepting credit or debit cards for most court fees. People can now pay with plastic for child support, case filing, probation fees, marriage licenses, and copy fees. The clerk’s office already accepted credit for traffic violations and cash bonds.

This would have been helpful for me four months ago when I applied for a marriage license. I rarely carry cash anymore and had to make sure either my fiancé or I went to the clerk’s office with the appropriate amount in hand before applying. Using a credit card would also be helpful if you just don’t have the cold, hard cash right now, but know you will before your credit card statement is due.

Of course, this convenience comes at a cost. Just like Ticketmaster or some gas stations, there’s a “nominal” fee added to cover the costs of processing credit or debit transactions. For everything but traffic tickets, child support, and cash bonds, the fee is 3.5 percent of the transaction or $3.50, whichever is higher. The convenience fees for the other items vary by vendor.

It definitely is more convenient to use a credit card than to carry around a lot of cash, however, people will need to be careful that their $150 parking ticket or child support payment doesn’t balloon higher because they didn’t pay it off on their credit card in time. Sometimes cash is just the way to go.

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