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WASHINGTON -- A new series of advertisements launching this week to draw more attention to "interchange" fees will ask Americans if they ever wonder who pays for all the credit card junk mail they receive. Merchants Payments Coalition, a group of merchant trade associations seeking a more competitive and transparent credit card fee system, said it placed the ads.
The campaign depicts a consumer buried in envelopes full of credit card junk mail, accompanied by the text: "Ever wonder who pays for all that credit card junk mail? You do. It comes from your credit card interchange fees. Interchange is the biggest credit card fee you've never heard of -- and it's dangerous."
The ads began running in Washington newspapers yesterday in anticipation of a hearing on interchange fees scheduled to be held July 19 by the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Task Force.
The group estimated that Visa and MasterCard banks collected more than $36 billion in interchange fees last year, up 17 percent from 2005 and 117 percent since 2001.
According to a recent study cited by the group, the credit card companies and their banks spend only about 13 percent of the interchange fee on actual processing. The rest goes for marketing, profit, and other things like rewards programs.
The MPC is a group of nearly 30 associations representing retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel stations, on-line merchants, and other businesses that accept debit and credit cards.