News

Credit card processing agreement to cost U.S. consumers

American consumers may soon be forced to pay extra when purchasing with plastic, a result of the recent $7 billion settlement between retailers and credit card processing companies.

Visa, MasterCard and several big banks agreed to pay $7.25 billion — a settlement still awaiting a judge’s approval — in an antitrust lawsuit brought by seven million retailers who claimed that the credit card processors and banks colluded to fix credit interchange fees and prohibited retailers from steering customers towards cheaper forms of payment, USA Today reports.

Provisions of the deal include a reduced interchange fee for eight months, and retailers can now charge a “checkout fee” when a consumer uses debit or credit to make a purchase.

Though consumers will ultimately be forced to foot the bill, public outcry similar to that after Bank of America announced its $5 monthly debit-fee plan may be enough to discourage retailers from instituting new fees, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst for BankRate.com, said that consumers will ultimately determine the broader impact of the settlement agreement.

“What we know right now is that no matter how this plays out, savvy consumers aren’t going to stand for paying fees and surcharges, and they will figure out a better alternative,” McBride said, The Wall Street Journal reports. “Then there are people who are sloppy with their finances, who don’t worry about these things or don’t think they add up, and they will wind up paying for this big-time.”