Advocating for swipe fee reform on Congress’s Main Street

NRF and the National Restaurant Association team up to advocate for the Credit Card Competition Act
Sr. Director, Grassroots
May 22, 2023

Capitol Hill is known for being the home of America’s legislative bodies. It’s also Congress’s Main Street, a vibrant neighborhood of small retailers and restaurants dedicated to serving their community. That’s why NRF, in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, hosted a reception at a local restaurant for 200 lawmakers and congressional staff in honor of National Small Business Week.

The event provided a platform for over 30 small merchants that operate on Capitol Hill to voice their concerns about the adverse impact of high swipe fees on their businesses and share their personal stories.

The retail and restaurant community support the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act, a bill that would infuse competition into the U.S. payments market. Swipe fees are most merchants’ highest operating cost after labor, but just two companies control 80% of the credit card market — and both refuse to negotiate swipe fees with Main Street businesses.

The CCCA would simply require that at least two competing processing networks be enabled on each credit card. That would force networks to compete over fees, security and service, and has the potential to save American businesses and consumers an estimated $11 billion per year.

Take action

Contact Congress today and tell lawmakers to co-sponsor the Credit Card Competition Act now.

“On a day-to-day basis, credit card swipe fees are my highest fee,” Tony Tomelden, executive director of the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals, said at the event. Tomelden, who owns Capitol Hill bar The Pug, is frustrated with high credit card swipe fees that eat into his bottom line and prevent him from making further investments in his business like hiring more staff or expanding.

“It makes sense to call them swipe fees — they are swiping dollars daily. Processors are getting two to three days’ worth of my sales, monthly. That may not seem like a lot, but the margins we operate on are incredibly slim. There’s generally no room for an owner like me to negotiate or shop this cost around,” he said.

Participants also heard from NRF and the National Restaurant Association on why the retail and restaurant industries need swipe fee reform. “When merchants accept a credit card, they are stuck: Whichever network is on the card dictates all the prices and terms for the thousands of banks that issue cards,” NRF Senior Vice President of Government Relations David French said. “This means small businesses have no choice but to incorporate the high swipe fees into their prices.”

“Restaurant operators are currently juggling a 22% increase in food costs and an 18% increase in payroll expenses,” said Brennan Duckett, director of technology and innovation policy at the National Restaurant Association. “Swipe fees that have doubled over the last decade are having a profound impact on the industry.”

NRF and the retail and restaurant communities will continue to advocate for passage of the Credit Card Competition. Add your voice by participating in our grassroots campaign.

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