Merchants fight for lower credit-card swipe fees |

Merchants fight for lower credit-card swipe fees

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post

A growing number of merchants are revolting against the credit- and debit-card providers their customers rely on to pay them.

“We are under pressure to be as efficient as we can be to keep our prices down,” said Bill Cook, owner of Howard Lorton Galleries in Denver. “The credit-card industry doesn’t appear that way. They appear to have a cartel.”

At the center of the debate are swipe fees, what banks charge one another to handle and process electronic payments. On a $100 purchase, a merchant might get $98 back, with $2 going to the bank that issued the customer’s card.

The biggest share held back, $1.60 in the above example, is the interchange fee, which goes to cover things such as nonpayment, reward programs and other marketing efforts that promote the use of cards.

Visa and Mastercard, whose cards account for about 80 percent of credit and debit transactions, set that interchange rate on behalf of the thousands of banks.

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