Bill to offer competition in 'swipe fees' may also do away with credit card points and rewards

Saturday, November 11, 2023
Bill for competition in 'swipe fees' may also end credit card rewards
The bill would require credit cards to offer two different processing networks - but this could have an impact on credit card rewards.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Each time a credit card is used, the merchant is charged what is commonly called a "swipe fee" of 2% to 3% of the purchase.

That fee is split between the processors -- usually MasterCard and Visa -- and the banks that issued the card.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) doesn't like that set up. He said, "These swipe fees are inflation multipliers."

At a recent news conference, he called it unfair to consumers and retailers. Senator Durbin said, "Visa and MasterCard set the fees on behalf of thousands of banks and tell the merchants to take it or leave it. There is no negotiation, there is no competition."

The senator has introduced a bipartisan bill called the Credit Card Competition Act, which would require credit cards to offer two different processing networks - and one cannot be MasterCard or Visa.

The Electronic Payments Coalition represents processors, banks and others opposed to the bill. It says this is a money grab by big retailers.

I spoke with Steven Au from Au Points and Awards Consulting. He helps consumers gather and use credit card points.

I asked him if this could lead to the potential ending of credit card points.

Au said, "Yes, absolutely. This is the most serious attack to undermine credit card rewards that has ever existed."

Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, won't go so far as saying points could disappear altogether. However, he says if the bill becomes law, points will drop from one to three per dollar spent, to one half point per dollar spent.

"The points will get shifted into the pockets of the retailers," Kelly says, "and they're saying, 'Well, don't worry. Trust us. If you give us billions we'll trickle down the savings to consumers."'

Senator Durbin says, "If the Credit Card Competition Act were enacted, rewards would be reduced by less than one-tenth of 1% at most."

The Senator sent 7 On Your Side a statement that in part reads: "Claims that my bipartisan bill with Senator Marshall would make credit card rewards disappear is nonsense."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

You may also email 7OYS@KGO-TV.COM.

Please note the address uses the letter "O", not zeros. Be sure to include your full name, email, street address, and phone number.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live