Small retailers tell Congress to act on excessive swipe fees

The 2023 NRF Small Business Fly-In brought together small business owners to advocate for change
Sr. Director, Grassroots Advocacy

Small retailers are struggling with excessive credit card swipe fees and lack of competition in the U.S. payments market. In fact, credit card swipe fees are most small retailers’ highest operating cost after labor and are the only expense they can’t negotiate.

That’s because Visa and Mastercard control over 80% of all credit card volume and have blocked competing networks that could offer lower fees and better security from processing transactions made on their cards.

These fees prevent small merchants from investing in their businesses by hiring more staff, buying more inventory and competing on price. That’s why NRF convened 40 small businesses to advocate for passage of the Credit Card Competition Act in July during the 2023 NRF Small Business Fly-in.

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Excessive swipe fees hurt small businesses. Visit NRF's Fed Up With Fees headquarters to learn more.

The CCCA would provide much-needed relief to small businesses by introducing competition to the market. It would require at least two competing processing networks to be enabled on each card, breaking up Visa and Mastercard’s unfair control of the industry that hikes swipe fees and hinders card security and innovation.

During the fly-in, attendees met directly with their representatives in Congress for over 80 meetings on why the CCCA is so important for small businesses. Dane Ferguson, owner of independent bookstore Ferguson Books & More in Grand Forks, N.D., said credit card swipe fees are one of his highest expenses, preventing him from expanding and growing his business.

“I attended the fly-in because skyrocketing costs to our small business due to increased credit card swipe fees is single-handedly preventing our business from expanding,” he said. “Knowing there is pending legislation, I wanted to make sure lawmakers heard our voice.”

Jennifer Luna, CEO of The Kindship Companies, a collection of five gift shops in Tacoma, Wash., wanted her representatives to know the detrimental impact high credit card swipe fees are having on her business. “Credit card swipe fees are my third highest expense behind payroll and rent. I pay almost double my personal salary in credit card swipe fees,” she said.

Alicia Hommon explained how her family-run bakery in Missouri was forced to close — citing excessive credit card swipe fees as a major contributing factor to her decision. “My family-run bakery was dramatically impacted by swipe fees,” Hommon said, “and ultimately closed after seven years in business.”

Take action

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

The group also heard from co-sponsors of the bill, including Senators Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Representatives Lance Gooden, R-Texas, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Tom Tiffany, R-Wis. and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J.

Numerous advocates expressed a revitalized sense of hope, believing that concrete action can be taken to tackle this pressing issue. “Advocating for a cause that genuinely benefits small businesses and communities has rekindled my hope after these challenging years,” Luna said.

Hommon saw her participation as a chance to be a voice for all small businesses affected by the unfair credit card market. “The fly-in was a great opportunity to advocate for the small businesses in my rural community,” she said.

NRF continues to advocate for passage of the Credit Card Competition Act. Join us by participating in our grassroots campaign today.

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