It may pay off to put away the plastic

Stacey Vanek Smith May 15, 2009
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A customer prepares to spend her money. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It may pay off to put away the plastic

Stacey Vanek Smith May 15, 2009
A customer prepares to spend her money. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Lots of consumers take hits with their credit cards. The U.S. Senate takes up a reform package again today. And a lot of changes are on the table there. Here’s Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: At the grocery store near my office, you have to spend at least $5 to pay with a credit or debit card. That’s because merchants pay the bank a fee every time you use plastic. It’s usually about 2 percent of your purchase. A lot of stores just build that cost into prices. So you pay it, even if you use cash. Craig Shearman is with the National Retail Federation.

CRAIG SHEARMAN: Retailers have always wanted to discount for customers who pay cash, but Visa and Mastercard rules make it virtually impossible to do that.

An amendment to the credit card reform bill now making its way through Congress would let retailers give discounts for cash. Trish Wexler is with the Electronic Payments Coalition. It represents banks and credit card companies.

TRISH WEXLER: This amendment would remove all sort of enforcement about how merchants advertise their cash discount.

Wexler says retailers could advertise the cash price, and then hit shoppers using credit cards with a higher price at the register. Shoppers pay about $48 billion a year in interchange fees.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

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