MPC Backs Durbin Call for Promised Vote on Credit Card Competition Act

Contact: J. Craig Shearman
(202) 257-3678

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2023 – The Merchants Payments Coalition today joined Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in calling for the Senate to vote on the Credit Card Competition Act.

“The bill will benefit Americans who currently are paying the price for the credit card industry’s price-gouging schemes,” Durbin said Thursday on the Senate floor. “It will give a fighting chance to the small businesses and restaurants we want to see stay open, support the mom-and-pop shops that make our communities feel whole, and ultimately keep money in the pockets of hardworking Americans. It is time we bring this commonsense, consumer-protecting, bipartisan legislation to the floor for a vote.”

Durbin noted that the legislation has been recently endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, and that unions, consumer groups, small businesses, competition advocates and others came together last month to form the Lower Credit Card Fees Coalition.

“Few things could unite unions, businesses, consumer groups and a bipartisan group of senators,” Durbin said. “This bill does just that because it will benefit hardworking Americans.”

“We agree with Senator Durbin completely,” MPC Executive Committee member and National Association of Convenience Stores General Counsel Doug Kantor said. “The sponsors of this legislation were promised a vote and it’s time to make good on that promise. Small businesses and families can’t afford to suffer another day under these outrageous fees.”

Durbin said Visa and Mastercard, which control over 80 percent of the credit card market and centrally set swipe fees charged by all banks that issue cards under their brands, are “wielding enormous power over the American economy.” And they and the banks “exorbitantly profit off small businesses and consumers,” he said.

Durbin pushed back on repeated false claims made by opponents of the legislation and said they are spending “a pretty penny,” citing a study by Accountability.US that found the card industry has spent $51 million while lobbying against the bill.

“My bill is not coming after your rewards program or any other program,” Durbin said. “Any effort by the airline industry or big banks is just a scare tactic. They are feigning concern for hardworking Americans to protect their bottom line.”

Durbin cited a study by payments consulting firm CMSPI that found swipe fee savings under the CCCA would reduce rewards by less than 1/10th of 1 percent “at most” and that banks’ swipe fee profits would be more than sufficient to maintain current rewards.

Durbin called out United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby for making a “patently false statement” that the bill would “kill the rewards program.”

Credit and debit card swipe fees are most merchants’ highest operating cost after labor and too much to absorb, driving up prices they have to charge their customers. Swipe fees are up 50% since the pandemic and hit a record $160.7 billion last year, costing the average family over $1,000 a year.

The bill would end Visa and Mastercard’s longstanding monopoly over how transactions on cards issued under their brands are routed for processing. Instead, cards from the nation’s largest banks would be required to be able to be routed over at least one competing network like NYCE, Star or Shazam in addition to Visa or Mastercard’s networks. Banks would choose which networks to enable but merchants would then choose which to use, meaning networks would have to compete over fees, security and service, saving merchants and their customers an estimated $15 billion a year.

About MPC
The Merchants Payments Coalition represents retailers, supermarkets, convenience stores, gasoline stations, online merchants and others fighting for a more competitive and transparent card system that is fair to consumers and merchants. Follow MPC on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for the latest on swipe fees.