Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) released the following statement regarding the compromise on debit and credit card interchange fees struck between House conferees and Sen. Durbin (IL):
"I commend Senator Durbin, Chairman Frank, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Meeks and the House conferees for reaching a compromise on interchange fees. Their compromise addresses some of the concerns raised by me and 130 of my colleagues. It reduces some of the impacts on consumers that the Senate Amendment created," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.
"This compromise makes it more likely that everyday consumers will continue to receive important services such as fraud prevention without additional cost, by allowing the Federal Reserve to consider these services when setting rates. It also excludes government benefits cards and reloadable pre-paid cards from regulation, making it more likely that these vital products will still be offered to underserved and unbanked consumers."
Along with this, the compromise makes several other improvements for consumers over the original Senate amendment. It:
* Eliminates the provision that allowed merchants to discriminate on the basis of debit or credit card type. The original Senate amendment dictated that merchants could steer consumers away from specific types of debit and credit cards, including those from smaller financial institutions. It also allowed merchants to play favorites among specific card networks. The compromise still allows merchants to give discounts for those using debit or credit cards; however, it must offer those discounts across the board--not only to the holders of "preferred" debit or credit cards.
* Caps the minimum amount required for credit card purchases at $10. Previously there was no cap on minimum purchases for credit cards. The $10 minimum, while still arbitrary, will reduce the number of unwanted items that cashless customers may be forced to purchase when only carrying plastic.
* Eliminates the ability of federal agencies and institutions of higher learning from setting arbitrary maximum amounts for credit cards, preserving an important financing option for those paying high tax and tuition bills.
"While this compromise is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction and allows us to move forward on the important reforms of the financial industry included in the broader legislation," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.