Whenever you use your credit or debit card to make a purchase, the merchant's bank skims a percentage off the top. These hidden "swipe fees" drive up the price of merchandise, costing the average household more than $400 a year through higher prices. And they have tripled over the past 15 years.
Credit card swipe fees continue to grow, equaling $2-$3 out of every $100 spent. But in 2010 Congress passed a law that cut debit card swipe fees roughly in half, from about 45 cents on the typical transaction to about 22 cents. This new law, known as the Durbin Amendment, has saved consumers about $6 billion a year ever since.
This year, however, banks are trying to convince Congress to repeal the Durbin Amendment. That means banks would be free to double these fees back to where they were. And they would be free to continue increasing the fees year after year, for as long as they like. That would mean higher prices for everything you buy, taking money out of your pocket to give it to the nation's biggest banks.
This is your money! It's time to tell Congress not to let banks put their hands back in your pocket. Tell Congress to block the swipe fee hike.
Whether it's credit card interest, late fees, over-your-limit fees or new ones they've just dreamed up, banks charge consumers an endless number of fees. That's why I was happy when Congress passed the Durbin Amendment in 2010 and cut debit card swipe fees in half. Retailers have shared this savings with customers like me, and I have more money to pay for my family's daily needs thanks to the Durbin Amendment.
Now the big banks are trying to convince Congress to repeal this important consumer protection law. They want to go back to the bad old days when they could charge as much as they liked for debit card transactions.
If that happens, the prices my family and I pay for everyday necessities will only go up. The fees banks charge are larger than retailers' profits, so it's not like merchants can absorb the increases, especially small retailers on Main Street. These fees are ultimately paid by consumers.
The Durbin Amendment has worked. If anything, Congress should be increasing transparency by making banks disclose both debit card and credit card swipe fees to their customers so the public can see the true cost of paying with plastic. I know that I pay hundreds of dollars more each year because of swipe fees, but that's only because I've done the research. It's time that everybody gets to see these fees spelled out plain and simply.
[your comment here]
Please stand up to the big banks and say no to repealing the Durbin Amendment. If the banks win, it's your constituents who will pay the price.