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Credit Card Swipe Fees, The Other Hidden Fee

Debit cards have recently been in the news in reference to their swipe fees. These same "swipe fees" are found with credit card products. Credit cards also have other fees that can leave you paying a hefty price unless you know how to counter balance them. The saying "everything has its price" is definitely true. How much that price costs you is up to you and how you use the product or service. There is a right and wrong way to use your credit card. Merchant fees will be examined first.

All retailers that accept credit cards and debit cards are charged a fee. The fee is charged by the bank or credit card brand they accept. This is known as the interchange fee which is an average of 44 cents or 1 to 2 percent of any sale. The fee is charged to the merchant; therefore, you do not see it on your sales receipt..

Yet, you should realize you end up paying for this fee indirectly. By law, retailers are able to set a fair price for the products they sell. A product's cost is determined by several factors.

  • Cost of manufacturing the product
  • Markup at the retail location to earn a profit
  • Overhead

A retailer pays a certain amount for the product they sell you. For example, shampoo may cost the retailer $2.00 per bottle. The retailer sells this same bottle to you at $6.00. The $4.00 profit is designed to cover employee wages, overhead, and various business expenses. The cost of the product also accounts for how many the business has to sell in order to make a profit. A company selling shampoo may have to sell a million bottles before they actually earn money.

This is where the credit card interchange fee comes into play. The retailer needs to cover this credit card company fee too. Since they cannot directly charge you the "swipe fee" on the receipt they roll it into the cost of the products they sell as part of their business expenses. Even a person who pays with cash is now paying the interchange fee because it is rolled into the product cost.

The average household in America spends $427 per year due to additional costs for goods. This is according to the National Retail Federation. Products are not the only area where this type of fee applies. Services such as admission to a museum are also calculated in order to cover credit card processing fees.

An individual with one credit card that pays off the balance at the end of each month will never be charged finance charges. The only way to charge finance fees is if there is a running balance on the card. This is part of the fair practices act that gives you at least 21 days to pay off the debt. Most credit cards promise no interest charges for at least 21 days as long as the balance is paid in full. Consumers that obtain a credit card with no annual fee and pay no interest each month are using credit cards properly. This type of consumer is saving money on interest fees, annual fees, late fees, and missed payment fees. As long as cash withdrawals are not used, this consumer is also saving on those extra fees. The only place they are not saving for the use of credit cards is at the store due to the inclusion of merchant fees into the price of products. 44 cents is definitely a larger savings than paying the other credit card fees that exist. The right way to use a credit card is to reduce the amount of fees you pay for the privilege of having the credit card. Consumers can also examine credit cards to find the lowest fees charged for interest, late payments, missed payments, transaction fees, and all other fees associated with credit cards.