"Excessive" fees for using a debit or credit card to buy items such as travel or cinema tickets will be banned by the end of 2012, under government plans.
The moves comes amid complaints that airlines, booking agencies and even councils were imposing excessive charges for using a card.
However, firms will be allowed to levy a "small charge" to cover payment processing costs.
The regulator has been investigating some airlines over surcharge clarity.
Consumers buying a ticket online are often charged extra when they tick a box that says they intend to pay using a credit or debit card.
Sometimes, consumers have found the payment is only added after they ploughed their way through up to eight web pages.
The issue prompted the consumers' association Which? to call on the regulator to investigate, saying "the price you see should be the price you pay".
However, it accepted there could be an additional cost added for the cost to the retailer of accepting a card.
The regulator, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), published a report in June about the travel industry's use of surcharges.
It said charges must be clearer and surcharges for using a debit card should be banned.
Now, the government is planning to go further than the OFT's recommendations and change the law so all "excessive" surcharges are banned.
In effect, the government is bringing forward the implementation of new European rules, which were pencilled in for mid-2014.
These rules said that only the actual cost of processing card payments could be charged to consumers.
Aircraft Some airlines have faced criticism from consumer groups for their policies
"We are leading the way in Europe by stopping this practice," said Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban.
"We want consumers to be able to shop around. They have a right to understand the charges they may incur up-front and not be hit through a hidden last-minute payment surcharge."
Some surcharges can be about £6 per person. Now the proposals are likely to cause debate about the level of surcharge that could be deemed to be "excessive".
The process of accepting credit or debit cards as payment is quite complex, although retailers point out that they absorb this cost in their sale price.
The OFT calculated that travellers spent £300m on card surcharges in the airline industry alone in 2010.
It has been investigating some unnamed airlines over the "transparency and presentation" of their surcharges.
The government will launch a consultation at the start of 2012.