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Gephardt: Worsening Coin Shortage Could Inflate The Price Of Consumer Products

Jul 20, 2020, 6:30 PM | Updated: 8:20 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Two weeks after a KSL-TV investigation into the causes of the national coin shortage, the issue seems to be worsening.

You can add Utah state agencies to the list asking for exact change and some Kroger stores are telling customers the cents they’re owed will have to either go on their loyalty card for the next time they shop, or they can round up and donate to charity.

Worse, this lack of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters could soon have us all paying a few extra pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters every time we shop.

Every time you swipe your card, the merchant pays a fee to the credit card company. With it getting harder and harder to pay with cash, it has left more folks turning to plastic.

It’s a major shift. According to creditcards.com survey, this time last year cash accounted for about half of all purchases under $10.

bankrate.com survey found credit card usage is way up — 70 percent higher at grocery stores since last December.

“Typically credit cards are going to charge two or three percent in interchange fees to the merchant,” said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with Bankrate. “That’s one of the big ways they make money. Merchants hate these fees.”

Rossman said only time will tell how much all these added credit card fees will get passed on to consumers with increased prices on the stuff that we buy. What does seem clear is that it’s not likely to go back down after the pandemic with consumers now in the habit of using cards and other touchless payment options that are often tied to credit cards.

“The pandemic is accelerating some of these trends we’ve seen for a while,” he said.

Interestingly, though, it seems that debit cards have gotten a bigger shot in the arm than credit cards. Rossman said debit card usage is way up and actually, credit card debt is slightly down.

“A lot of that has to do with a fear of debt,” he said. “A lot of people are really worried right now about their jobs and the state of the economy and credit card debt has actually fallen 10 percent over the last three months. Some of it is people spending less and some of it is people really making an effort to pay that down because they’re worried about it.”

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Gephardt: Worsening Coin Shortage Could Inflate The Price Of Consumer Products