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WASHINGTON -- A new poll by the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC) found that consumers believe Visa and MasterCard should disclose information about the hidden interchange fees it charges, and Congress should do something about the issue.
The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, revealed that while 68 percent of U.S. adults had never heard of interchange fees, nine out of 10 feel that credit card companies should disclose the amount they charge retailers based on the fees, in addition to how the fees are set. Consumers also want Congress to require credit card companies to be more informative about their policies and practices.
"The way credit card companies hide interchange fees is indefensible," said Mallory Duncan, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Retail Federation and chairman of the MPC. "Interchange fees add up to twice what consumers pay in late fees but they're kept secret and never disclosed to consumers. Consumers want that to end. They want to know how much they're paying."
The poll found that 94 percent of respondents said credit card companies should be required to disclose the amount of interchange fees they charge. In addition, 93 percent of respondents said credit card companies should be required to inform consumers how those fees are set, and 91 percent felt that Congress should require the companies to be more transparent when it comes to policies and practices surrounding interchange fees.
Further, 91 percent of those polls did not agree with the idea that credit card companies should be allowed to set interchange fees without notification to consumers, and 83 percent of respondents disagreed that the companies should be allowed to continue to charge interchange without a change to the current policy.
Interchange fees make up two percent of purchase prices, on average, the MPC estimates. Visa and MasterCard interchange fees totaled $30.7 billion in 2005, an increase of 17 percent over 2004 and an 85 percent increase since 2001, according to the MPC.