Rising credit card “swipe” fees are significantly impacting holiday expenses. These hidden fees charged by the credit card industry are piling onto the cost of holiday meals and presents under the tree. These fees, often unknown to consumers, average 2.24% of the purchase amount, sometimes reaching 4%, and have doubled over the past decade. This increase is attributed to Wall Street banks and card networks like Visa and Mastercard. The fees, costing families over $1,000 annually, are the second-highest operating cost for grocers after labor and rent.
The impact of swipe fees extends to all aspects of the holidays, including groceries, dining out, and travel. A home-cooked meal for ten people averages $61.17, with swipe fees constituting $1.37 of the total cost. For those dining out, the expense can reach over $1,000 for a party of ten, including over $22 in swipe fees at high-end restaurants. Travel expenses also include these fees, with AAA noting a 7.5 cents per gallon cost due to swipe fees for gasoline, and airfares having swipe fees averaging $6 per ticket.
In response to these rising costs, Congress is considering the Credit Card Competition Act, aiming to create more competition over swipe fees. The legislation proposes that banks with assets over $100 billion enable cards to be processed over competing networks, potentially saving merchants and customers $15 billion annually and enhancing security. Visa and Mastercard, controlling over 80% of the market, currently set swipe fees centrally and limit processing to their networks. This act could allow merchants to choose the processing network, fostering competition over fees, security, and service. Make your voice heard! Tell your congressperson to pass the Credit Card Competition Act.