WASHINGTON (WMBD) — Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin joined other members of Congress to ask the heads of Visa and Mastercard about reported plans to increase fees that could cost consumers and business owners millions.

According to the letter from Congress, Visa and Mastercard allegedly plan to increase interchange fees or implement a new credit card fee structure.

The Illinois Democrat’s letter states, in part: “At a time when hardworking Americans and small business owners are struggling with higher costs of everyday essentials like gas and groceries, raising credit card fees would further contribute to inflationary pressures and unduly burden thousands of communities around the country that are trying to make ends meet.”

The letter also states that some early reports suggest that if the new fees go into effect, it could cost businesses more than $500 million annually.

Both Mastercard and Visa released statements responding to the letter.

Mastercard Senior Vice President of Communication Seth Eisen denied that they are raising the interchange rate.

“Mastercard is not raising interchange rates in the U.S. and has no plans to do so,” Eisen said. “The service referenced by Senators Durbin and Marshall is a new service for financial institutions that protects consumers. Consumers and businesses choose Mastercard because of the work we do to reduce fraud, make payments simpler and more streamlined, and protect consumer data.”

A Visa spokesperson also released the following statement:

Visa’s overall interchange fees have remained flat for more than a decade.  Moreover, over the past few years, Visa has lowered interchange for the vast majority of small businesses and in key segments such as supermarkets and quick service restaurants. This is true even while we have seen a 180% increase in Visa’s payment volume as more merchants are choosing to accept Visa and consumers prefer to pay with Visa.

As more merchants and consumers migrate to digital payments, ensuring that Visa’s transactions are secure, seamless and reliable has never been more important.  We have made massive investments in security to protect the wallets and personal data of Visa cardholders.  Earlier this year, we announced changes to how we price some of our proven fraud prevention services to drive expanded usage. If fully implemented, these technologies would lead to an estimated $500 million in online fraud reduction over the next year, and more than $30 billion in increased sales for merchants. The fact is, when we take fraud out of the payments system, everyone benefits. 

We work hard to balance economics and reduce fraud on our network, helping to lower the overall cost of digital payments and ensuring safe and easy payments for all who choose Visa.

Visa Spokesperson