TV Ad Says Swipe Fees Are ‘Taking a Swipe’ at Consumers

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

WASHINGTON, February 5, 2024 – Big banks are “taking a swipe” at consumers with credit card swipe fees that cost the average family over $1,000 a year, according to a new TV commercial unveiled today by the Merchants Payments Coalition.

“Swipe fees are a punch in the face for small businesses and consumers alike,” MPC Executive Committee member and National Association of Convenience Stores Senior Vice President of Government Relations Lyle Beckwith said. “Both are being beaten up by banks daily and it’s time for Congress to step into the ring and bring this one-sided fight to an end.”

“Ever get the feeling big banks are taking a swipe at you?” an announcer asks as a man identified as “Mr. Big Banker” and wearing a boxing glove punches a man paying with a credit card at a gas pump. “Every time you swipe your credit card, banks make big money, charging you up to 3 percent in hidden fees on every purchase you make.”

As the same consumer is punched again while buying a bottle of water and again at a cash register, he accumulates bandages and eventually a neck brace as the announcer says swipe fees cost the average family “more than a thousand bucks a year.”

“Only Congress can stop big banks from ripping off consumers,” the announcer says. “No more getting sideswiped – tell Congress to pass the Credit Card Competition Act now.”

The 30-second ad and similar digital banner ads are running in Washington and targeted markets around the country and come as sponsors of the Credit Card Competition Act are seeking to have the Senate take a vote on the legislation.

Credit and debit card swipe fees have skyrocketed 50 percent since the pandemic and hit a record $160.7 billion in 2022. The fees are most merchants’ highest operating cost after labor and drive up prices paid by the average family by an estimated $1,024 a year.

Visa and Mastercard each centrally set the swipe fee rates charged by all banks that issue credit cards under their brands and also block transactions from being processed over competing networks that offer lower fees and better security. The bill would address that by requiring that cards from the nation’s largest banks be able to be routed over at least one competing network like NYCE, Star or Shazam in addition to Visa or Mastercard’s networks.

Under the legislation, banks would select 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. Financial institutions with less than $100 billion in assets – including all community banks and all but one credit union – would be exempt.

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.