Durbin Amendment could hang $36 in charges a year on consumers

U.S. shoppers swiped their debit cards approximately 37 billion times last year, but changes are expected that could make the cards much more expensive.

According to the Nilson Report newsletter, credit cards were involved in 19 billion transactions last year and checks were used for 18 billion transactions.

Despite their popularity, however, debit cards, as a result of the Durbin Amendment, might lose their luster as banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have begun reducing or removing rewards programs, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Additionally, some experts believe that the new rules will spell the end to free checking accounts, with some banks expected to go as far as adding a monthly fee for their cards. Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. have already added new fees to some of their checking accounts.

“They’re all testing the market and seeking the right price,” Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, said, according to the L.A. Times. “It’s a mathematical certainty the consumer will bear the cost.”

Hunt also said that most of the nation’s 7,534 banks and thrifts are testing or planning to tests the reaction of consumers to new fees or limits on debit cards.

Michael Moebs, an industry consultant, told the L.A. Times that the typical cost to consumers could amount to $36 a year on average.

“We were trained to use cards, and now they’re telling us it’s not enough, wanting to charge us for the privilege,” Ed Mierzwinski, the consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said, according to the L.A. Times. “It’s diabolical.”

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