Merchants have complained for years that Visa and MasterCard's rules about debit cards put them at a disadvantage. The reform would address many of these complaints, giving store owners a victory over card issuers, and to some extent over consumers.
Store owners would be allowed to set minimums on credit card transactions – up to $10 -- which they are currently not allowed to do. For consumers, this likely means no more $1.50 packs of gum, which can cost the vendor more than $2 in swipe fees.
"Consumers may feel some sympathy on this issue, but if you take away their ability to use their cards anywhere, anytime, they're not going to be happy," says Gerri Detweiler, a credit advisor at Credit.com.
The bill would also allow the Federal Reserve to make sure that card issuers are charging "reasonable and proportional" fees, which is likely to bring down costs to store owners, and potentially could also reduce prices for consumers.
Some lawmakers had hoped to put auto lenders under the eye of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, but the agreement leaves them under the Federal Trade Commission. However, the FTC has been given more powers to "develop and enforce new rules to protect consumers from unfair and abusive auto financing transactions," according to the Consumers Union.
A range of other, intricate financial regulations are meant to reform some of Wall Street's aggressive business practices with the aim of preventing a repeat of the financial crisis.
One of the biggest changes involves the creation of an Office of Credit Ratings, which is meant to supervise rating agencies such as Moody's and Standard and Poor's, and prevent conflicts of interest that may sway credit ratings issued to companies. The bill also allows investors to sue credit agencies, according to the Consumers Union.
The credit rating agencies attracted criticism during the crisis, for allegedly assigning positive ratings to risky investments.
Other big reforms involve stricter regulation of how CEOs are paid and forcing derivatives to be traded on public exchanges. Lax practices in those areas are widely blamed for the financial debacle of the past three years.
In that regard, experts say, even archane trading rules will have a direct effect on consumers.
"All of us are harmed immensely when we have a financial crisis," says Doug Elliott, an economics fellow at the Brookings Institution. If banks had been adequately regulated before the crisis, many Americans who are unemployed today would still have jobs. This bill, he says, can't prevent future crises since financial systems are just as fallible as the humans who run them. However, the bill, if passed, "will make crises less frequent, and less substantive when they do happen."