Debit Cards

Law to Reduce Debit Card Fees to Retailers Has Opposite Effect

December 12, 2011
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We’ve had many negative things to say about the debit card reform law that went into effect a few months ago (AKA the Durbin Amendment). We’ve repeatedly made claims that retailers won’t participate in the savings but for the few that do, those savings won’t be passed on to the consumer.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, something much worse is happening; Debit card fees are going up!


“Jason Scherr had a lot on his mind the day after he opened his fifth Think Coffee shop in Manhattan last week. The fan was blowing too hard, the classical music was playing a little too loudly—and he was trying to figure out how to get more customers to pay with cash.

Manhattan coffee-shop owner Jason Scherr says his debit-card fees are higher since the Dodd-Frank law.

A new law that was supposed to reduce costs for merchants that accept debit cards has instead sent Mr. Scherr’s monthly processing bills much higher and forced him to reassess the way he does business.

“My choice is to raise prices, discount for cash or get an ATM,” says Mr. Scherr, a lawyer who has been in the coffee-shop business for more than a decade.

Just two months after one of the most controversial parts of the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law was enacted, some merchants and consumers are starting to pay the price.

Many business owners who sell low-priced goods like coffee and candy bars now are paying higher rates—not lower—when their customers use debit cards for transactions that are less than roughly $10.

That is because credit-card companies used to give merchants discounts on debit-card fees they pay on small transactions. But the Dodd-Frank Act placed an overall cap on the fees, and the banking industry has responded by eliminating the discounts.

“There will be some unhappy parties, as there always is when the government gets in the way of the free-market system,” says Chris McWilton, president of U.S. markets forMasterCard Inc. He said the company decided that it couldn’t sustain the discounts under the new rate model because the old rates had essentially subsidized the small-ticket discounts.

Merchants now are trying to offset their higher rates by raising prices, encouraging customers to pay in cash or dropping card payments altogether.


Read the full article at

Don’t Make Us Pay is Back at it Again

October 21, 2011
Article by:

After months of silence, we received a mass e-mail yesterday from the infamous

Tell Your Congressman: Repeal the Durbin Amendment!
Take Action! 

You know all too well the harm that the Durbin amendment on debit cards has caused to debit card users like you. Across America, we’re seeing higher fees, the end of free checking and disappearing rewards – without a penny of savings at the cash register.

Fortunately, some members of Congress are standing up for consumers. They’ve introduced legislation that would repeal this harmful amendment and reverse the harm it’s causing for debit card users.

This legislation won’t pass without your help. Click the link to send a letter to your representative, and ask them to co-sponsor this important legislation. And don’t forget to spread the word about this important effort.

  • Use the #DurbinFees hashtag on Twitter to tell your followers why we need this legislation to prevent higher debit card fees.
  • Post a link to the letter on Facebook, and ask your friends to join the effort.
  • Let’s join together and make our voices heard: repeal the Durbin amendment. Don’t make us pay.

    Revenge for the Durbin Amendment

    October 3, 2011
    Article by:

    The Durbin Amendment doesn’t lower costs for consumers, nor did it hurt the banks as much as it planned. But that isn’t stopping the banks from lashing out anyway. Bank of America is plowing ahead with a $5 monthly debit card usage fee on consumers.

    If you don’t use the card, there’s no fee, but if you do, the fee is enforced no matter how little you spend. A solitary purchase of a $1 cup of coffee would bring on the $5 charge, a travesty that has some people outraged.

    For those that love to inappropriately translate figures into an APR, that would be the equivalent of 6,000%.

    Read more about new debit card monthly fees Here

    Electronic Payments Industry changing Forever – All Points Bulletin!

    August 23, 2011
    Article by:

    Electronic Payments Industry Changing Forever – ALL POINTS BULLETIN
    Posted on December 17, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Attention business owners and to all those employed in the merchant processing and Merchant Cash Advance industry. The world is changing and not at the ‘global warming will one day kill us all’ pace. It’s happening right now. Remember that little thing called the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that passed in July? There was a little itty bitty part in there that we so happened to broadcast and critique in detail on our site, known as the Durbin Ammendment. Take a look the law’s summary, particularly #3. On the evening of December 16th, the Federal Reserve Board delivered an early Christmas present to all the debit card networks and big banks. The gift contained the government’s proposed debit card fee changes, or as some bank executives might tell you, “they mailed us 10 sticks of dynamite.” If you’re serious about this business, read through the 176 page document that every news agency is trying to sum up in 3 paragraphs.

    Visa’s stock plunged on the news

    Debit cards accounted for 35% of all non-cash transactions in 2009. The proposed changes seek to cap the fee charged for accepting a debit card to a maximum of 12 cents. According to the report issued by the Board, here’s what businesses are paying now:

    “Networks reported that debit and prepaid interchange fees totaled $16.2 billion in 2009. The average interchange fee for all debit transactions was 44 cents per transaction, or 1.14 percent of the transaction amount. The average interchange fee for a signature debit transaction was 56 cents, or 1.53 percent of the transaction amount. The average interchange fee for a PIN debit transaction was significantly lower than that of a signature debit transaction, at 23 cents per transaction, or 0.56 percent of the transaction amount. Prepaid card interchange fees were similar to those of signature debit, averaging 50 cents per transaction, or 1.53 percent of the transaction amount.”

    Debit interchange fees have always been assessed as a percentage of the sales amount. The larger the transaction size, the higher the fee. Debit cards are most frequently used for smaller purchases but a flat cap on transaction fees regardless of transaction size is a game changer. Now twist this with the fact that interchange fees are almost disappearing altogether and one needn’t think too hard about the unintended consequences.

    MasterCard issued a statement immediately. “Experience demonstrates that consumers, not banks or payments networks are the biggest losers as a result of this regulation,” said Noah Hanft, MasterCard’s general counsel. “This type of price control is misguided and anti-competitive, and in the end is harmful to consumers.” Visa hasn’t provided any useful feedback at this time but has openly condemned the report.

    The Board acknowledges that some card issuers can’t even cover their own costs with the 12 cent transaction fee in effect. This Board’s direct response to this dilemma is that they simply don’t care. “An issuer with costs above the cap would not receive interchange fees to cover those higher costs. As a result, a high-cost issuer would have an incentive to reduce its costs in order to avoid a penalty.”

    Thank you Federal Reserve for the feeble minded, anti-capitalistic solution. “Just lower your costs or we’ll fine you.” The outrage is warranted because the proposal isn’t really a proposal at all. This is the new order granted to the government after the passage of the Wall Street Act back in July. The payment networks and banks may comment on this proposal but effective July 21, 2011, this simply becomes law.

    This is the equivalent to forcing all the businesses in America to lower their retail prices under penalty of law as the solution to dealing with consumers whining about the recession.

    Additionally, the Board constantly refers to the life cycle of a debit sale to being a 4 party transaction. There is:

    * The bank that issued the card to the customer
    * The customer
    * The business that the customer shops at and uses the debit card
    * The acquiring bank that the business uses to accept debit cards

    The payment networks are what allow the acquiring banks to communciate with the banks that issued the debit cards. The networks have costs associated with their service, infrastructure, and overhead. The 12 cents per transaction is the combined total that can be charged between both the acquiring bank, payment network, and issuing bank. There’s not a whole lot to go around.

    While the Federal Reserve and congress are patting themselves on the back and high fiving eachother for saving the economy (by sticking it to the big banks), the end result will be the loss of millions of jobs, the elimination of debit cards, an increase in other bank fees, the end of all debit rewards programs, the end of electronic payments quality, the end of electronic payments assurance, and the collapse of the free market economy. Give me a high five. Not!

    Here’s what will happen and why:

    * The Board ignores or does not understand the electronic payments industry business model. The debit card business is not a 4 party transaction. The acquiring bank party encompasses multiple layers and parties in itself. Acquiring bank —> Payment Processor —> Indepedent Sales Office —> Sales Agents. Debit transaction costs are marked up at each level to create a competitive marketplace. The electronic payments industry employs millions of people. With a 12 cent cap and no markup abiliity, those millions of workers will lose their jobs overnight.The majority of this business is commission based, with processors and sales agents directly taking home solely what’s generated on the markup of debit/credit fees of their clients.This is probaby the most blatent and incredibly obvious oversight. There can be no competitive market because costs are fixed and there can be no sales because there is no money for anyone to earn on markups. National unemployment will rise several percent over the course of a few months.
    * Rewards debit cards can no longer exist. Card issuing banks currently pay their customers rewards by charging businesses more for accepting a rewards card transaction. Since a bank no longer has that ability, rewards cards can no longer exist.
    * Debit cards become a moot point for banks. With no profit incentive to put them in the hands of customers and no ability to compete on price, there is no incentive for debit networks or cards to continue.
    * Quality, fraud protection, and assurance will suffer. Banks whose own costs are higher than the imposed cap face fines by the Federal Reserve unless they cut costs. Therefore the government is not only incentivizing poor quality, but in fact making it mandatory.
    * Ever hear of too big to fail? This industry is too big to be messing with. These are the actual national and international money networks through which trillions of dollars move through every day. Mandating poor quality, eliminating all competition, and removing profit incentives will de-evolutionize the flow of money altogether.

    The Board will review and allow comments through March 31st, at which point this industry will meet its maker. Yes, it’s that’s serious.


    Debit Card Costs May be Put on the Consumer: Don’t Make Us Pay

    August 23, 2011
    Article by:

    Originally published on February 18, 2011.

    Back on December 17th, 2010, we published an article outlining the alarming terms of Debit Card Fee Reform. If you haven’t read up on what’s happened, the Federal Reserve has imposed a pricing cap on the cost a retailer pays to do debit card transactions. It’s scheduled to go into effect in July, 2011. The cap is so severe, that it would no longer be financially viable for banks to continue issuing them.

    There is of course one solution that would allow banks to continue debit processing and that’s to push the transaction costs to the other party involved, the consumer. This would mean that as a result of the Wall Street Reform Act, consumers will be paying more than ever. How’s that for unintended consequences!

    Some people aren’t happy so we’ll cut to the chase and let you know that we found a special gem of an organization, This website is providing users with up to date information on the new debit card reform law, as well as the proper tools to speak out to politicians. They provide a prewritten letter and automatically address it to the U.S. Senators and Representatives in your state. The full language of it is below:

    As your constituent, I am writing to urge you to stop the debit card interchange rule before it harms debit card users like me.

    The only beneficiaries of this harmful rule are retailers, who will take home an additional $14 billion in profits – and consumers will be left to deal with the consequences. The rule does not require that retailers pass along even one penny of their savings to customers. Meanwhile, banks, forced to lose money on debit interchange transactions, will be forced to compensate by increasing fees for deposit customers.

    The fact is that retailers receive tremendous benefits when they accept debit cards for payment, including higher sales, lower costs and guaranteed payment. That’s why millions of retailers have chosen to accept debit cards – and that number is growing.

    In effect, consumers like me will end up paying for a payments system that provides retailers with extraordinary value.

    I don’t want to be forced to pay higher fees, give up my rewards, and lose my free checking account – just so retailers can have an extra $14 billion in profits.

    Congress should be in the business of protecting consumers, not forcing us to pay for the costs of giant retailers.

    Please repeal this harmful rule before it’s too late.”

    We are of course in favor of small business, but it is unlikely that they will reap the supposed benefits either. This is a lose-lose-lose-lose deal. (I think we forgot another ‘lose’ or two). If you’re in favor, sign the letter!

    We’ll keep you updated on the developments of this law.


    Image Copyrighted by: 123RF

    Say Goodbye to Debit Cards

    August 23, 2011
    Article by:

    Originally Published on March 11, 2011.

    We’ve been saying it since December 2010, that Debit cards will cease to exist when the new Wall Street reform laws go into effect. On February 18th, we argued that the cost of a debit card transaction would shift from the retailer to the customer. You can view that article here: Debit Card Costs May Be Put on The Consumer – Don’t Make us Pay!.

    We were right on the mark. Today JPMorgan Chase announced that debit card carrying customers would soon be subject to a purchase cap of $50 – $100 per transaction. As a result, a huge chunk of the U.S. population would no longer be able to make an average size purchae. The new video game system? Too big. A computer? Too much money. A bar tab? Better bring cash…

    The reason for such a dramatic change was provoked by Debit card reform. In July 2011, the Federal Reserve will begin enforcing a maximum debit card transaction cost of 12 cents. For card issuing banks, payment networks, acquirers, and ISOs, this 12 cents is too low to be profitable, let alone sustainable. As a result, banks must make up for the loss by charging consumers.

    For more information, check out the CNN article.

    – deBanked

    Debit Interchange Fee Study Act: A Few Good Senators Try to Stop the Madness

    August 23, 2011
    Article by:

    Originally published on March 17, 2011.

    What started as a citizen revolt against Wall Street to both punish them for the previous recession and prevent another one, has now morphed and devolved into a personal battle that threatens to eliminate the use of money altogether.

    JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest card issuers in the world recently stated the legislation may force them to limit the amount a consumer can spend in a single debit card transaction to as low as $50. Need a full tank of gas? You better bring cash!

    The Durbin Amendment of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will instate a flat 12 cent cap on Debit Card “interchange fees” effective as of July, 2011. The media communicated this cap as a “flat swipe fee”, a term used in such incorrect context that it has even confused executives of major card processors. How can public opinion be formed or swayed when the media and quite possibly the Senators and Congressman that passed the law fail to understand what “interchange fees” actually are and who they are paid to?

    The original 176 page study and law can be downloaded here. It outlines on page 7 what they believe to be a 5 party system. It actually refers to it as a 4 party system and then corrects itself in the footnotes.

    • Party #1 – The Cardholder/Customer
    • Party #2 – The Card Issuing Bank (The bank that gave the customer the card. aka Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.)
    • Party #3 – The Business/Merchant That is Accepting the Card as Payment
    • Party #4 – The Acquiring Bank (The bank that allows the merchant to accept a credit card and services their account)
    • Party #5 – The Payment Network (Visa or MasterCard or whichever brand’s logo is indicated on the card or used to transfer information from the merchant’s Acquiring Bank over to the customer’s Card Issuing Bank.)

    Party #4 consists of multiple layers including companies that do all or just one of: marketing and underwriting the risk of the debit card accounts, processing the payments, receiving and providing settlement for the transactions, and maintaining the reports while offering support to the merchant.

    Add that to the fact that the Federal Reserve at times seems to misuse “interchange fees.” Interchange fees are associated only with Party #2, the Card Issuing bank. The bulk of the report does indeed seem to limit the scope of the 12 cent cap to Card Issuing Banks. That implies and makes evident that the overall swipe fee that merchants pay will not have any such cap at all, but party #2 will be greatly affected. Since the Acquiring Banks are not clearly defined as subject to inclusion in the cap (it’s mentioned vaguely in a few paragraphs and footnotes), then the media frenzied reporting of a “12 cent swipe fee” would not be true at all. The Acquiring Banks and all the layers within them could fill the gap and keep the overall swipe fee that a merchant pays, the same. D’oh!

    But Card Issuing banks are up in arms because the cap is impossible to sustain and it is even acknowledged in the report. The report quotes, “An issuer with costs above the cap would not receive interchange fees to cover those higher costs. As a result, a high-cost issuer would have an incentive to reduce its costs in order to avoid a penalty.” With millions of people in the industry, does the Federal Reserve really think that banks have at no point considered how to reduce costs already?

    Too Rich?

    As hard working Americans, we so badly want “Wall Street” and the “Big Banks” to simply be a handful of arrogant individuals in overpriced suits, drinking fine wines, while chatting about their new private jets and weekend trips to Paris. But instead the financial services industry employs millions of individuals, many who make less than $35,000/ year.

    How many administrative assistants, customer support reps, technical support reps, risk analysts, underwriters, fraud prevention managers, internal IT & systems support reps, compliance officers, bookkeepers, internal auditors, salesmen, marketers, lawyers, and handlers of human resources do you think are employed in the electronic payments industry?

    If these jobs were lost or affected, consider the consequences to the businesses that support them. How many supply companies sell them paper, business cards, printer ink, pens, and staplers? How many accountants do their books? How many IT companies sell them computer hardware and technology? These millions of workers do not starve to death, but rather eat breakfast and lunches at restaurants and cafes near their offices. How many restaurants and cafes depend on their business? How many cleaning services have contracts to maintain their offices? How many dealerships sell these workers cars? 

    How many of these people are doing the job just to support their families? We are not using the face of the hard working middle class to support our argument, but they will certainly become unwitting victims. While the contributors to our site are involved in the electronic payments industry, we are not executives, higher ups, or even rich. The site’s core message is to guide business owners to get the best deal in an industry that is already highly competitive and tough to understand.

    Let us state this: Some banks have excessive profits and some executives in the payment industry are just a little too rich for comfort. But cutting what many experts are saying is $14 Billion dollars worth of revenue as of the result of this legislation isn’t going to affect the big guys, it’s going to clamp down on the little ones.

    Didn’t the Article Title Mention Something about Senators?

    Some may consider our message to be astroturfing but we’re just explaining the other side of the story. Before we regulate ourselves into a world without debit cards and the loss of a few milliion jobs, we applaud a few good Senators for introducing the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act of 2011. It aims to delay the Durbin Amendment for 2 years until a better system can be created. We like to think of it as taking a deep breath, composing ourselves, and then really trying to tackle the issue.

    The sponsors of the Act are:

    • Jon Tester D-Montana
    • Bob Corker R-Tennessee
    • John Kyl R-Arizona
    • Ben Nelson D-Nebraska
    • Tom Carper D-Delaware
    • Chris Coons D-Delaware (What would Christine O’Donnell have done?)
    • Pat Roberts R-Kansas
    • Mike Lee R-Utah
    • Pat Toomey R-Pennsylvania

    Everyone wants lower costs but let’s do it right.

    – deBanked

    Debit Card Rewards Go the Way of the Dinosaur

    August 23, 2011
    Article by:

    Originally Published on March 23, 2011.

    And yet another one of our predictions is unfolding….say goodbye to Debit card rewards! Back on December 17th, we specifically stated this would be one of the many casualties caused by the Federal Reserve price cap.

    On March 21, 2011 one of the largest card issuers in the world made this announcement: JPMorgan Will Cease Debit-Card Rewards Program Because of Proposed Fee Cap. A quote from the article:

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) will stop offering debit-card rewards for almost all of its customers in July to reduce losses from a proposed cap on interchange fees. The company is mailing letters to customers announcing the change, said Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the bank. New York-based JPMorgan said in November it would end rewards for new customers in February.

    Well, we said it once, and we’ll keep on saying it: The Durbin Amendment is bad news!

    More articles from us on this topic:

    Debit Card Costs May Be Put on The Consumer

    Say Goodbye to Debit Cards

    Debit Interchange Fee Study Act – A Few Good Senators Try to Stop the Madness

    – deBanked