September 18, 2023
WASHINGTON – Nearly two-thirds of likely voters support credit card swipe fee reform, according to a new survey released today by the Merchants Payments Coalition.
“These numbers show that bringing competition to out-of-control swipe fees is a priority for consumers, not just merchants,” MPC Executive Committee member and National Association of Convenience Stores General Counsel Doug Kantor said. “Consumers are increasingly aware that swipe fees drive up the prices of everything they buy and are going nowhere but up. They want Congress to stand up against global credit card networks and Wall Street banks and put American families first. Regardless of political affiliation or age, consumers want lawmakers to pass the Credit Card Competition Act.”
The survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted by Pierpont Consulting & Analytics LLC September 5-11 and found that 65 percent of those interviewed support swipe fee reform. Decisive support was seen across party lines, including 69 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans, along with 67 percent of those 35 and older and 56 percent of those who are younger. Only 27 percent of likely voters oppose reform.
All respondents to the survey had to have at least one credit card and be either “very likely” or “absolutely certain” to vote in the 2024 election for president and other offices. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
MPC released the survey results during a virtual news conference held this afternoon by the American Economic Liberties Project, Americans for Financial Reform, the Institute for Self-Reliance, Small Business Rising and other consumer and small business groups. The event was held to call on Congress to pass the Credit Card Competition Act, and included several of the 15 organizations that sent a letter to Capitol Hill last week endorsing the measure.
The MPC survey follows research released on Friday by the National Retail Federation, a member of the MPC Executive Committee, that found 81 percent of consumers support federal legislation that would allow for greater competition to lower credit card swipe fees for small businesses. NRF also found 73 percent of consumers trust small businesses over large banks when advocating for policies that impact consumers.
Both sets of research come as lead Senate sponsors of the Credit Card Competition Act are seeking to have the bill attached to the “minibus” spending plan that could be voted on by the Senate this week. Sponsors delivered remarks on the Senate floor last week, saying action is urgent because of Visa and Mastercard’s reported plans to increase credit card swipe fees by more than $500 million beginning next month.
First proposed last year, the Credit Card Competition Act was reintroduced in June by Senators Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Peter Welch, D-Vt., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, along with Representatives Lance Gooden, R-Texas; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Thomas Tiffany, R-Wis., and Jefferson Van Drew, R-N.J.
The bill is aimed at credit card swipe fees, which average 2.24 percent of the transaction but can range as high as 4 percent. Swipe fees have more than doubled over the past decade and rose $22 billion last year to a record $160.7 billion when debit cards are included. They are most merchants’ highest operating cost after labor, driving up prices by an estimated $1,024 a year for the average family.
Visa and Mastercard – which control over 80 percent of the market – each centrally set swipe fees charged by banks that issue cards under their brands, and also restrict processing to their own networks. The legislation would require banks with at least $100 billion in assets to enable cards to be processed over at least two unaffiliated networks – Visa or Mastercard plus well-established, high-security competitors like NYCE, Star or Shazam. That would make networks compete over fees, security and service and is expected to save merchants and their customers $15 billion a year.
In addition to lower fees, the Federal Reserve says the competing networks have one-fifth the fraud of Visa and Mastercard’s networks. Credit card rewards would not be affected, nothing would change about which cards consumers use or how they use them, and community banks and small credit unions would be exempt.
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.