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03/04/2021

Lawmakers Urge Credit-Card Companies Not to Raise Interchange Fee Rates

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — With financial companies set to increase interchange fees next month, two federal lawmakers are asking them to postpone the hike.

On March 3, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) sent a letter to the CEOs of Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. urging the companies not to raise interchange fee rates during the pandemic.

The request comes as the two companies are expected to implement previously delayed increases in April. Visa and Mastercard pushed back the 2020 increases after Durbin and Welch requested the delay. These fee increases will reportedly apply to a variety of transactions, including online card payments made to restaurants and grocery stores, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"Just as increased vaccination efforts start to give our Main Street businesses hope for a summer reopening, your companies propose slamming struggling merchants, and by extension consumers, with fee increases. Raising your fees would undermine efforts to help the economy recover and further reduce Americans' purchasing power," wrote Durbin and Welch. 

"We urge you to call off these planned fee increases. Our nation is still reeling from the ongoing pandemic.  And your fee rates are more than high enough already. This is not the time to take advantage of your position to squeeze more dollars out of your fellow Americans," the lawmakers added.

Durbin and Welch were original backers of the retail industry's push for debit swipe-fee reform a decade ago. To read their letter, click here.