Congressmen Ask Visa and Mastercard to Halt Swipe-Fee Increase

Durbin and Welch ask card companies to hold off fee hikes during COVID-19.

March 04, 2021

Visa Credit Card

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) sent a letter to the CEOs of Visa and Mastercard urging the companies not to raise interchange fee rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NACS Daily recently reported that Visa and Mastercard will increase swipe fee rates in April 2021, after delaying them for a year as previously requested by Durbin and Welch. The fee increases will apply to several types of transactions, including online card payments made to restaurants and grocery stores. These fees fall on the backs of merchants, who then must often raise prices for goods and services to compensate for the fees.

“Just as increased vaccination efforts start to give our Main Street businesses hope for a summer reopening, your companies propose slamming struggling merchants, and by extension consumers, with fee increases,” the letter said. “Raising your fees would undermine efforts to help the economy recover and further reduce Americans’ purchasing power. We urge you to call off these planned fee increases. Our nation is still reeling from the ongoing pandemic. And your fee rates are more than high enough already. This is not the time to take advantage of your position to squeeze more dollars out of your fellow Americans.”

According to the NACS State of the Industry report, convenience stores paid about $11.8 billion in card fees in 2019, making it the second highest operating cost after labor. NACS continues to fight against big card networks wishing to increase swipe fees.

The full text of the letter is available here.