ARLINGTON, VA — April 15, 2010 — As millions of hardworking Americans pay   their income taxes today, it is important to recognize that every year the average American family also pays more than $400 in interchange fees, or swipe fees, to banks and credit card companies.

Beginning tomorrow, Interlink, the personal identification number (PIN) debit network run by Visa, will increase by nearly 30 percent the swipe fees retailers have to pay when customers use PIN debit cards.   

“It is unacceptable that Visa continues to increase fees at a time when our country needs to protect the hardworking Americans who provide jobs in our communities,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer at the Food Marketing Institute. “Swipe fees are hurting small independent businesses and grocers the most because they pay some of the highest rates and have no choice about whether or not to accept debit cards to remain competitive.”

Credit and debit card swipe fees cost American consumers and businesses more than $48 billion in 2008. These hidden fees are set in secret by the banks and credit card companies and have tripled in the past decade. Hundreds of pages of unfair card company rules create a non-transparent system where interchange swipe fees remain entirely hidden from the customer using plastic at the checkout.

“Much-needed swipe fee reforms will continue to be a top priority for FMI. We applaud Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Bill Shuster (R-PA), and Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) for their leadership on this important industry issue and we encourage other lawmakers to support their efforts to bring meaningful relief to interchange swipe fees and unfair, intrusive card company practices that are squeezing small businesses and raising prices for all our customers,” she said.