Card 'swipe fees' debate coming up in Congress

June 13, 2010 3:13:24 PM PDT
Congress may begin debate during the coming week on Sen. Dick Durbin's amendment to limit the amount merchants have to pay when people use credit or debit cards.The amounts the merchants pay are called interchange or swipe fees. The average credit card fee is about 2 percent, and more than that for reward cards.

Durbin's bill would empower the Federal Reserve to regulate the swipe fees by deciding whether they are reasonable, and it would give merchants more control of transactions.

"This bill will allow restaurants to give discounts for cash, for using debit cards, and will allow them to decide whether they prefer Visa that treats them better than Mastercard or vice versa," Durbin said.

Visa says it has taken a survey showing most consumers oppose the plan to allow government regulation of swipe fees.