Next time you watch the numbers at the gas pump, you can blame the banking industry for making the final bill even bigger.
A new study from the National Association of Convenience Stores documents just how much banks and card issuers make each time you fill up your car: 6 to 10 cents per gallon. The costs are hidden swipe fees, and they vary between debit and credit cards. After months of debate over the Durbin Amendment and setting limits on swipe fees, it's no secret that using your plastic card can help banks turn profits. However, everyone pays for them with gas prices -- even if you use cash to pay at the station. These fees are simply built in to the advertised prices.
Gas prices continue to rise, but these bank fees rise even faster. The report shows that gas prices increased by 80 percent between 2004 and 2011, but swipe fees rose by 180 percent. As the summer travel season approaches, members of the banking industry stand to increase their profits if average gas prices climb toward the $5 mark.
While banks work to draw attention to their small-business lending in communities, this survey certainly highlights that the banking industry isn't quite as friendly to the convenience store sector of small business. Last year, gas station owners paid a whopping $11.1 billion in card fees, which isn't exactly a small chunk of change for independent store owners who are trying to pay employees, utility bills and rent.
For drivers, every penny counts, too, and the report from the NACS claims that these swipe fees may make some consumers pay up to an additional $30 for gas this year. Considering that 71 percent of respondents indicated that they would drive five minutes of the way to save 5 cents per gallon, that's a pretty big add-on expense.
Should gas prices should be more transparent to allow drivers to understand where their money is going?