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Senate Introduces Bill to Curb Credit-Card Fees

Washington D.C. The Senate on Friday introduced an antitrust legislation that would require Visa and MasterCard to negotiate with merchants over hidden credit-card processing fees. These fees cost the average family more than $400 a year and total $48 billion annually, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“The introduction of this bill shows momentum is building in Congress and that both the House and Senate are ready to bring the credit-card companies’ greed under control,” NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “This is a fee most consumers don’t even know about, but it’s the equivalent to half a dozen tanks of gas or a month’s worth of groceries. If consumers knew how much they were paying for credit cards, most would say it isn’t worth the price, particularly in today’s economy.”

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008. The legislation is a companion measure to H.R. 5546, also named the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., in March.

Both measures would require credit-card systems possessing “substantial market power” to negotiate with merchants to reach a voluntary agreement on credit-card terms and conditions. If an agreement could be reached, both sides would be required to submit their final offers to a binding arbitration by a three-judge panel appointed by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.