ARLINGTON, VA — April 28, 2010 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) praised the House Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing today on the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, which would allow merchants to negotiate interchange swipe fees as a group with Visa and MasterCard and the banks that issue those cards.

     “The Credit Card Fair Fee Act introduced by Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA) is important legislation that would bring transparency and competition to the interchange swipe fees imposed on America’s grocery stores,” said Jennifer Hatcher, group vice president of government relations at FMI. “Supermarkets provide and bag the groceries, and yet credit card companies and banks make twice as much off the sale.”

     The latest round of debit increases — a 30 percent cost increase to food retailers when a customer uses a personal identification number (PIN) debit card — is the latest example of the lack of competition in the marketplace.   

     “Retailers are in a take it or leave it situation because they have no ability to negotiate interchange swipe fees. The anticompetitive Visa and MasterCard rules keep interchange swipe fees completely hidden,” she said.

Credit and debit card swipe fees cost American consumers and businesses more than $48 billion in 2008. These 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.

“FMI thanks Chairman Conyers and Rep. Shuster for their continued leadership in leveling the playing field for all retailers to negotiate across the table from credit card giants Visa and MasterCard and the banks that issue their cards,” she said.