You may not know it, but every time you swipe a credit or debit card, that merchant is paying for the privilege of accepting your plastic.
It's called an interchange, or swipe, fee.
It only averages about 2% per transaction nationwide but add it all up..
That's 40 billion dollars for companies like Visa, MasterCard and the banks that issue plastic.
You're not paying the fee: the store is.
Visa and MasterCard call it a reasonable cost to process a transaction, but some merchants call it a rip-off.
And some Senators are listening.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin recently introduced three amendments to the financial regulation bill that could reduce the amount merchants pay banks.
The idea, of course, is that if merchants pay less, they could pass those savings on to consumers.
As you might imagine, the big banks and Mastercard and Visa are lobbying hard to keep the status quo.
Stay tuned on that one.
In other news on the banking front this week; looks like you might have more credit card solicitations heading your way.
According to Synovate Mail Monitor, in the first quarter of this year, about 480 million card offers went out.
That's up 29% from the quarter before, but not even a sixth of their peak.
That was in the summer of 2005 when banks sent 1.6 billion of these solicitations.
If you don TMt want to receive credit card offers in the mail, it TMs easy enough to opt out.
You can call 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visit OptOutPreScreen.com.