The rising swipe fees banks charge merchants to process credit and debit card transactions could cost consumers almost $578 million in higher prices as they celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, the Merchants Payments Coalition said.
Consumers are expected to spend an average $185.81 on Valentine’s Day items such as candy, flowers, jewelry, greeting cards, clothing and evenings out this year for a total of $25.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.
According to the MPC, based on the average 2.24 percent rate for Visa and Mastercard, that would include $4.16 per person in swipe fees–as much as a typical Valentine’s greeting card or two or three pieces of chocolate from a mid-range gift box–and would add up to $577.9 million if all purchases were made with credit cards.
“Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, but that special meal out is going to cost a little more for the restaurant and the customer this year, thanks to higher swipe fees,” MPC Executive Committee member and National Restaurant Association Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Brennan Duckett said. “Whether it’s eating out, buying flowers or choosing an engagement ring, soaring swipe fees drive up the price of everything U.S. consumers buy and impact what couples can afford.”
A $120 “Classic Love” red rose bouquet can include $2.70 in swipe fees. The swipe fees on a $60 box of chocolates amount to about $1.30. A $200 dinner for two can run over $5 for swipe fees on the meal and tip, and a $50 bottle of wine or champagne adds another $1 in swipe fees.
The biggest swipe fee cost can come for couples who get engaged on the most romantic day of the year. BRIDES magazine says couples spent an average $6,500-plus on an engagement ring in 2022, which would include a swipe fee of $145.
By category, swipe fees could account for $143.4 million of the $6.4 billion consumers are expected to spend on jewelry, $109.8 million of $4.9 billion spent on evenings out, $67.2 million of $3 billion spent on clothing, and $58.2 million of $2.6 billion spent on flowers.
The impact of swipe fees comes as sponsors of the Credit Card Competition Act are waiting for a vote in the Senate.
NACS members are encouraged to reach out to their members of Congress and ask that they support the Credit Card Competition Act. NACS makes it easy for retailers and suppliers to send a message to their legislators via the NACS Grassroot Portal.