Americans Don’t Trust Banks, Surveys Find

WASHINGTON--()--It should come as no surprise that recent surveys find the majority of Americans do not trust big banks and believe the fees they charge are unfair, said the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), a group of merchants concerned about rising credit card swipe fees.

“What is surprising,” said Lyle Beckwith, Sr. Vice President for Government Relations at the National Association of Convenience Stores, a MPC member, “is the amount of money the big banks spend on public relations and advertising without improving their image.”

See this article and another about two recent “image” campaigns.

“The big banks’ multi-billion dollar campaigns aren’t moving the needle on the favorability meter because they continue to stick consumers and Main Street businesses with unfair, hidden fees. With good reason, Americans still do not trust big banks,” added Doug Kantor, counsel to the MPC.

In 2010, the MPC conducted a poll that found a majority of Americans believes the swipe fees merchants must pay banks to swipe customers’ credit cards are unfair, both to consumers and merchants. Swipe fees have tripled since 2004 and generate over $50 billion a year in revenue for banks. Inexplicably, Americans pay eight times more in swipe fees than Europeans for the same service.

More recent surveys have produced similar findings:

A December “State of the Bank” survey by GoBank found that the vast majority of Americans don’t fully trust big banks, and many are “surprised by fees or feel they’re simply unfair.” See here and here.

A Gallup poll, conducted in June 2012, backs up GoBank’s survey. See here.

The GoBank survey asked Americans about their current perceptions of banks. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say they do not fully trust big banks. When asked about their bank in particular, the vast majority of people (87%) do not feel their bank is transparent, and 68% do not perceive their bank as being “on their side.”

These perceptions are driven in part by Americans’ experiences with bank fees: 30% say they are sometimes surprised by unexpected bank fees, and 31% claim their bank’s fees are simply unfair. The survey also found that most Americans viewed the banking industry as one of the least innovative.

The Gallup survey found that Americans’ confidence in U.S. banks is at a record-low 21%, down from 23% in 2010. The number of Americans with a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence is now about half of the pre-recession level of 41%, recorded in June 2007. Gallup found that U.S. banks have “seen the greatest decline in confidence of any institution relative to its historical average.”

In other words, Americans’ confidence in banks is at its lowest level since Gallup began tracking confidence in banks.

The MPC is working with Members of Congress and consumer groups concerned about the lack of transparency and competition in the banking and credit card industries to reform credit card swipe fees.

Rising faster than health care costs, swipe fees are the second highest expense for merchants and are calculated into consumer prices. Visa and MasterCard control 80% of the credit card market and set the fees in secret. Swipe fees on credit cards are higher in the United States than anywhere else in the industrialized world – including a full eight times higher in the U.S. than in Europe.

Read more about debit and credit reform here: The Facts About Debit Reform and The Facts About Credit Card Swipe Fees.

The Merchants Payments Coalition - - is a group of retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel stations, on-line merchants and other businesses who are fighting against unfair credit card fees and fighting for a more competitive and transparent card system that works better for consumers and merchants alike. The coalition’s member associations collectively represent about 2.7 million stores with approximately 50 million employees.


Merchants Payments Coalition
Liz Poston, 202-207-3638


Merchants Payments Coalition
Liz Poston, 202-207-3638