Millions of Americans have credit card debt they can’t pay off, and they’re at the mercy of Visa and MasterCard, who continue to add on fees and rules to keep people in debt. Last week the Senate Banking Committee took the lead on legislation designed to rein in unfair interest rates on credit cards. The House Financial Services Committee is working on similar legislation. But both are missing a huge loophole – the credit card interchange fee.
Interchange fees are the single biggest cash cow for the banking and credit card industry. They amounted to $48 billion last year alone. What’s worse, they’re set in secret, and it’s virtually impossible for consumers to know how much they’re paying. These outrageous fees cost Americans $2 for every $100 they spend – whether or not they use a credit card.
Big banks and credit card companies have succeed in killing attempts to rein in these enormous fees so far, and they’re gunning up for another fight. A group of convenience stores and other merchants have banded together to launch an aggressive media and grassroots campaign, with TV, radio, and blog ads, as well as outreach activities on the ground in key states like New Hampshire (UnfairCreditCardFees.com).
Visa, MasterCard, and their banks have deep pockets, and they’ll do whatever they can to keep this sweetheart deal. We need to make it clear that we expect our representatives in Congress to take action.
Rep. Paul Hodes is in a unique position to address interchange fees since he sits on the Financial Services Committee. With Congress in recess, Rep. Hodes should be in his district all next week. Let’s show him there’s a drumbeat of support in New Hampshire to rein in these excessive and hidden interchange fees.
With so many families already squeezed by the subprime mortgage mess and housing crisis, interchange fees are acting as a hidden sales tax on top of all the interest rates and other credit card fees people pay.
New Hampshire residents had the second highest median credit card debt in the country last year, while credit card companies and big banks continue to get rich on the backs of small businesses and consumers.
Call, write, or email Rep. Hodes and urge him to reform credit card interchange fees.
Concord Office: (603) 223-9814
Nashua Office: (603) 579-6913
Keene Office: (603) 358-1023
Littleton Office: (603) 444-8967
Berlin Office: (603) 752-4680