(Washington, D.C.) â€“ The National Restaurant Association and 30 state restaurant associations are working together with more than 200 other merchant organizations in seeking relief from the U.S. House of Representatives for restaurants and other merchants on some payment card-processing fees.
In a letter to House members the National Restaurant Association urged members to include an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and previously passed in the Senate, in the final financial reform bill.
“Interchange fees are often restaurants’ third greatest operating expense, behind labor and food costs. Merchants pay about $48 billion in interchange fees every year,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs for NRA. “We are grateful to Senator Durbin for his leadership on this important issue, and appreciate the bipartisan support for addressing the problem of interchange fee practices and for providing relief to businesses who have seen their interchange fees skyrocket in recent years.”
Interchange fees, also known as â€˜swipe fees,â€™ and related contractual restrictions benefit credit card companies and card-issuing banks at the expense of merchants and consumers. The amendment would authorize the Federal Reserve to issue regulations that ensure interchange fees imposed on debit card transactions are â€˜reasonable and proportionalâ€™ to the costs of processing transactions.
The proposal also would permit merchants to set minimum and maximum transaction levels for credit cards. As a result, retailers would be free to choose their payment methods. Under current rules, merchants that accept credit or debit cards cannot set minimum transaction levels. The amendment also would increase competition and allow businesses to offer discounts to customers who pay with cash, checks, or PIN debit, which carry lower rates than credit cards.