Lawmakers to debate credit-card fees

House lawmakers next Thursday will debate a controversial financial bill that aims to limit fees credit card companies exact on transactions at retail stores.

The "interchange fee" issue is one of the most heavily lobbied financial matters on Capitol Hill and pits retailers and other store lobbyists against many of the largest financial-industry interests.

ADVERTISEMENT
Democratic Reps. Peter Welch (Vt.) and Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) have sponsored legislation aimed at clamping down on interchange fees.

Welch appeared at a rally on the issue on Wednesday with a group of 7-Eleven store operators and the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The group collected 130 boxes of petitions with more than 1.6 million signatures in support of the new restrictions.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Thursday.

Financial groups say the bill is misguided and the campaign against the fees is not about protecting small retailers.

"The big-box retailers, hiding behind some of the convenience-store folks, want to use the electronic payment system for free, which is ridiculous when they get higher sales, convenience from having to deal with cash, guaranteed payment for their services and products, and all the risk associated with credit cards gets passed onto the financial institutions," said Dan Berger, executive vice president of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU).

Visa released a recent survey as evidence that consumers believe stores benefit more by allowing credit card transactions than they pay to card companies.