How Banks Can Cash In on Parents' Back-to-School Shopping

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Parents laid out some real dough for 2014 back-to-school shopping - $669 per family, according to the National Retail Federation. That's up 5% from last year.

But did you know that $27 of that goes straight to banks in the form of bank card "swipe fees" for consumers using debit cards?

Swipe fees are "hidden" charges incurred by shoppers who use debit cards at retail stores. Retailers pay banks a fee for debit card payments, often up to 3% of the purchase value. In many cases, stores pass the costs of those fees along to consumers in the form of higher prices, raising the price on items such as clothes, books and phones and tablets.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Merchants Payments Coalition, bank profit margins on swipe fees can be as high as 10,000%. . . . 

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