Credit Card Swipe Fees Hit Record $100 Billion in 2023

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American merchants were charged $7.5 billion more for credit cards with Visa and Mastercard logos in 2023 than they were in 2022 – a total of $100.77 billion, The Merchants Payments Coalition states. This was the first time in history that Visa and Mastercard credit card swipe fees surpassed the $100 billion mark.

The figures reported in the latest Nilson Report show that total swipe fees including debit cards topped $172 billion, compared to $160 billion in 2022. Of that figure, more than $132 billion in swipe fees were from debit and credit cards bearing the Visa or Mastercard logos, according to MPC.

“Once again, Main Street merchants and consumers were hit with a new record for swipe fees in 2023,” said Christine Pollack, Vice President, Government Relations, for FMI – The Food Industry Association, in a news release. “Last year, Visa and Mastercard fixed the banks’ prices to the tune of more than $100 billion in credit card swipe fees. That is an awful toll for Main Street businesses and their customers to bear.”

Credit Card Fees Continue to Climb

Swipe fees, on average, are the single biggest expense for merchants aside from labor and the price tag is far too big for businesses to absorb. As a result, the average American family is getting hit with more than $1,000 a year in higher prices due to these anticompetitive fees, MPC states.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin, D-Ill., one of the lead sponsors of the Credit Card Competition Act, has scheduled a hearing on the lack of competition over swipe fees. In addition Senators Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have recently added their names as cosponsors of the bill, which would force Visa and MasterCard to compete with additional payment networks, according to MPC.

Currently, Visa and Mastercard – which control 80% of the market – centrally price fix the swipe fees charged by banks that issue cards under their brands rather than the banks competing to offer merchants the best deal. Visa and MasterCard also block competition by restricting processing to their own networks even though most competing networks charge lower fees and, according to the Federal Reserve, have less fraud.