Consumer Victory on Credit Cards

 On May 5th Vermont state legislators gave final passage to a bill that will help to curb predatory practices by credit card companies and protect both Vermont businesses and consumers.
VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns testified earlier in the House Commerce Committee in favor of the bill, S.138, An Act Relating to Credit Card Fees.  “With this legislation, Vermont becomes the first state to really stand up to the credit giants,” said Burns.
Senate Majority Leader John Campbell spearheaded the effort to pass the legislation on behalf of small businesses and consumers.  The new law is designed to prevent credit card companies from centrally fixing fees, allow merchants to set a minimum or maximum for credit card purchases and offer discounts for cash payments, and prohibit credit card companies from fining merchants for their pricing displays. 
The legislation includes five key provisions:
•    Prohibits credit card companies from fining merchants for their pricing displays or for offering a discount to customers who use a credit card with fewer fines on the merchant. •    Allows merchants to set minimum and/or maximum transaction amounts without being fined or penalized by the credit card companies. •    Prohibits credit card companies from forcing a store owner to use their credit card at all of their store branches if they choose to use it at one. •    Prohibits credit card companies from mandating the acceptance of all of their cards if the merchant chooses to accept one of them. (Larger merchant fees are attached to many of them)•    Prohibits central price setting by the major credit card companies. If fees need to be assessed they should be set by the local banks that distribute the cards, not Visa and MasterCard.
Governor Douglas is expected to sign S.138 into law in the coming days.