Watchdog rules credit card retail fees excessive

Fees paid by retailers to credit card companies are "excessive" and anti-competitive, the competition watchdog said in a provisional ruling yesterday.

The Office of Fair Trading said the £750m-a-year "interchange" fee, paid by shops to card issuers, breached the Competition Act after Mastercard and Europay, its European affiliate, applied for an exemption.

If the final decision backs the early ruling, it will force big changes to the structure of the credit card industry and could cost some com