Jess Smith | 

Swipe Fees Will Make Back to School Shopping Even More Expensive

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Swipe fees are making an already-spendy back-to-school shopping season — thanks to inflation — even spendier.

What are swipe fees? When you use your card to pay instead of cash, stores get charged for the transaction. The stores pass the costs to you by making increasing product prices or adding hidden fees.

Back-to-school shopping is expected to be a record-setter in 2022 thanks to increased prices — as much as $37 billion this year. But $2.5 billion of that will be thanks to swipe fees.

So what does this mean for you, and how much are you spending on swipe fees this year? We have the answers.


Every household is spending an average of $900 extra this year thanks to hidden swipe fees.

A person inserting their credit card at the credit card machine at a Target counter.

Debit card and credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover charge stores when customers swipe their cards. This processing charge is the second-largest expense for retailers (after payroll), and they pass the amount to you by increasing prices.

So that means even if you are paying cash, online, or even on the phone, you won’t be able to escape these hidden charges. The average swipe fee is 3%. And swipe fees have risen 24% to $137.8 billion in 2021 — up from $110.3 billion in 2020. Swipe fees have doubled over the past decade and impacts your family budget by an estimated $900 in 2022.


Swipe fees will add an extra $26 per student to your back-to-school supply list budget.

A woman looking at a Back-to-School shopping school list next to a display of lists at Walmart.

This year, swipe fees will hit back-to-school season pretty hard, adding an extra $26 per student to school supply list costs. In 2019, the average parent spent $697 on back-to-school shopping, but in 2022 it’s going up to $864, thanks to inflation.

Then when you add on those 3% fees for credit or debit card transactions, that’s an extra $26 per student, bringing back to school costs to $890 a child.

TIP: To avoid paying more for your school supplies, you’ll want to use our essential stock up price list.



Back-to-school costs have gone up 27% since 2019.

A woman shopping for school supplies, looking at Five Star folders in Target.

With inflation at a 40-year high, back-to-school shopping is hurting wallets more than ever this year. Inflation has made back-to-school shopping 8% more expensive in 2022 compared to 2021 — but a whopping 27% more expensive than in 2019.

According to the 2022 Deloitte back-to-school survey, clothing prices have increased the most (18%), and school supplies cost 7% more than in 2021.

TIP: To save nearly 11% on back to school taxes, check our tax-free weekend guide to see if your state has one.


While you can’t remove swipe fees, you can lower your back-to-school out-of-pocket expenses.

Two women shopping through the Back to School display shelves at Walmart.

We wish we could tell you how you can make a phone call or use cash to opt-out of swipe fees, but that’s not a thing. Instead, we’ve done all the work to figure out the best prices and savings strategies on back-to-school supplies and clothes.

We’ll tell you where to buy cheap school supplies, how to find your back to school shopping list, and even where to get free school supplies.




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