The American Consumer Institute (ACI) has released a ConsumerGram detailing the negative effects that high credit card fees (interchange fees) have on families across the country, MarketWatch reported.
The report comes shortly before one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
“Holiday season is right around the corner. As many American families take to the shopping malls this time of year, more and more realize they need to cut back on their spending in the midst of tough economic times. However, they could have more money in their pockets if it weren’t for hidden interchange fees,” ACI President Steve Pociask said in a statement regarding the study. “Credit card companies and banks have been able to turn a huge profit at the expense of hard-working families. So instead of helping the situation, the credit card industry is adding to their financial stress by imposing hidden taxes. This has gone on for far too long. Policymakers need to investigate these hidden fees and their effects on hard-working consumers,” he added.
The study notes that on average, each household will pay an estimated $337 this year in interchange fees. The interchange fees far exceed normal bank processing costs, which are around 13%. Experts estimate that a substantial share of the fee is used for marketing efforts.
In 2008, interchange fees were around $337 per household, but are likely to be higher this year. According to a Gallup poll, the average family is projected to spend about $740 during the coming holiday season.
Americans pay the highest interchange fees of all industrial nations. Convenience stores and gasoline retailers annually pay credit card companies more than twice as much as they earn in profit and saw their interchange fees triple from 2004-2008.
For a copy of the ConsumerGram or more information about the Institute, visit www.theamericanconsumer.org.