Payment Card News

Fee Revolt

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If U.S. merchants were permitted to charge an extra fee for using a credit card to make a purchase, the impact on domestic credit card activity could be enormous. More than 95% of Americans say they would switch back to checks and cash if merchants added a 1% to 3% fee to their credit card purchases, a practice now permitted under Australian law. The findings come from an informal poll of 1,038 participants, conducted during July on CardWeb.com’s home page. New government credit card reforms that became effective in January now permit Australian merchants to recover their card costs from consumers. VISA and MasterCard have sought to overturn the new Reserve Bank of Australia regulations, and are now awaiting a decision from the Federal Court of Australia. VISA and MasterCard are also facing possible regulation of interchange fee practices in the UK, Poland, Switzerland, and New Zealand. According to data released by the Reserve Bank of Australia in July, Australians charged $11.7 billion during May, a weak 4.5% increase over the previous year. By comparison, credit card volume between May 2001 and May 2002 increased 41.3%, nearly ten times the current growth rate.

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