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South Carolina Airports Unite Against Credit Card Bill

South Carolina’s six major airports are joining the fight against the Credit Card Competition Bill, putting pressure on U.S. Senators to oppose the bill.
Airports are now joining their airline counterparts in asking lawmakers to oppose a bill accused of aiming to kill the credit card points industry.


In a letter to South Carolina senators Lindsay Graham and Tim Scott, the leaders of the state’s six major airports are expressing their dissent to the bill.


Airport Leaders Claim Loss of Points Would Significantly Impact Travel

The controversial Credit Card Competition Act of 2023 (Senate Bill 1838) was introduced to the U.S. Senate in June 2023 by Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin. The text of the bill would direct the Federal Reserve System to “prohibit certain credit card issuers with assets of over $100 billion from restricting the number of networks on which electronic credit card transactions may be processed,” opening the door for cards to be processed on two or more networks. Proponents of the bill say it would increase competition and reduce fees paid by consumers when they use credit cards at the point of sale.


Many have accused the bill of attempting to end credit card points and rewards programs, including the leaders of South Carolina’s airports. In their letter to the state’s senators, executives at Charleston International Airport (CHS), Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), Florence Regional Airport (FLO), Greensville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH), and Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) say the loss of those points would be incredibly detrimental to the state’s tourism.


“Regardless of what brings people here, what remains the same is that tourists open their wallets to airlines to travel here, to hotels to stay, to restaurants to eat, and beaches to swim,” the letter reads. “The CCCA would sharply reduce the number of people traveling here through our airports, effectively forcing many of these same wallets to close.”


The letter cites data from U.S. aviation consortium Airlines for America, estimating “frequent flyer miles earned through airline co-branded credit cards funded air travel trips 172,000 domestic visitors to South Carolina.” Airlines for America previously expressed their public opposition to the CCCA with their own additional data.  If the act were to pass, the airports claim a tourist industry driving $260 million in economic activity and supporting over 2,000 jobs would be in jeopardy.


The letter comes as Durbin called on the chief executives of four major travel and credit card stakeholders – American Airlines, United Airlines, Visa, and Mastercard – to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about credit card competition on April 9, 2024. American Airlines is the only carrier who serves all of the South Carolina airports.


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Feature image courtesy: RussellHarryLee via Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)