WASHINGTON -- Card interchange has gotten more attention asrising fuel prices have both boosted what consumers pay at the pumpand what gas stations accepting credit cards must pay in cardinterchange.

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Gas station trade association maintain that gas stationoperators, particularly independents, mark up their gas 10 to 12cents per gallon and an average interchange rate of 2%, gasstations have watched card interchange eat into their profits. At$3.00 per gallon, a station will pay six cents per gallon in cardinterchange, but at $4.00 card interchange rises to 8 cents pergallon. In California, where the average price of a gallon gas hashit $4.59, the interchange price is just over 9 cents pergallon.

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Gas station owners say the already high prices for gaseffectively prevent them from raising prices to cover theinterchange cost since consumers will shun stations with as littleas penny per gallon difference over what consumers believe to bethe lowest price.

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