US Justice Dept enters final judgement with Visa, Mastercard

July 20, 2011, The United States of America, and other states, announced a final settlement in US vs MasterCard International Inc., and Visa Inc. The antitrust lawsuit said that MasterCard and Visa have rules in place that prevent merchants from offering consumers discounts, rewards and information about card costs, ultimately resulting in consumers paying more for their purchases.

In summary of the settlement, the purpose is to allow merchants to influence consumer payment choices by disclosing information about their costs for using different cards. Merchants can:
– Offer a rebate or discount at the point of sale for using a particular brand or card type, or form of payment.
– Offer a free product at the point of sale for using a particular brand or card type, or form of payment.
– Offer a free, enhanced, or discounted service or at the point of sale for using a particular brand or card type, or form of payment.
– Offer incentives or other benefits.
– Express a preference for different card or payment types.
– Communicate how much it costs them to accept different payment types.

Interestingly, nothing shall prevent a merchant from disparaging either brand.

US Visa International Operating Rules and MasterCard Rules must be updated within 5 days to reflect the new language included in the settlement.