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Fighting the credit card stranglehold

John Dimsdale May 6, 2009
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Fighting the credit card stranglehold

John Dimsdale May 6, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: Congress is debating limits on interest rates and fees paid by credit card users. The bill — which could reach the Senate floor in days — has touched off a separate battle over the fees credit card issuers charge merchants. Here’s Marketplace’s John Dimsdale.


John Dimsdale: Every time you use a credit card, the store pays a fee to the credit card company. And those fees added up: $48 billion last year, according to merchants.

Consumer advocates like Ed Mierzwinski at U.S. PIRG, say two companies have a stranglehold on retailers:

Ed Mierzwinski: Mastercard and Visa are so ubiquitous that if you don’t take Mastercard or Visa, you will lose business. And that’s the hammer that Mastercard and Visa hold over the merchants’ head, and it’s a very effective hammer.

Card issuers say there’s no monopoly on retailers.

Trish Wexler is a spokeswoman for banks and credit card companies:

Trish Wexler: Most recently, there are a good deal of new entrants into the marketplace of PayPal or Revolution Money. The industry is growing and it is fiercely competitive.

Retailers, though, are asking Congress to give them more say in negotiating lower fees, which they claim would reduce prices for everybody.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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