Consumers may be in for a major break on credit card purchases under an new agreement reached Monday between the U.S. Department of Justice and the nation's two biggest card companies.
At issue are the merchant fees that businesses pay credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard to process the charges. Until now, shopkeepers had been forbidden to tell consumers about the fees - or offer discounts to customers using cards with lower merchant fees.
But on Monday, Visa and MasterCard agreed to let merchants charge less to customers who use different kinds of credit cards that charge smaller fees to shopkeepers.
"We want to put more money in consumers' pockets, and by eliminating credit card companies' anticompetitive rules, we will accomplish exactly that," Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said at an afternoon news conference. "The companies put merchants and their customers in a no-win situation," Los Angeles Times reports.
"Visa's rules always have allowed U.S. merchants to steer customers to other forms of payment and offer discounts to customers who choose to pay with cash, check or PIN debit," Visa said.
"The new rules will expand U.S. merchants' ability to discount for their preferred form of payment, though they will not be able to pick and choose amongst issuing banks. The settlement agreement does not address Visa's rule prohibiting U.S. merchants from surcharging consumers," MarketWatch reports.