Visa, Mastercard postpone interchange rate hike on merchants

Fee increases will be pushed to April 2022

Visa and Mastercard are postponing plans to increase fees on U.S. merchants until next April as businesses continue to face a slew of challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Both companies won't increase their interchange rates, fees imposed on merchants every time a consumer makes a purchase with their credit or debit card, until April 2022.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
V VISA, INC. 225.81 -1.14 -0.50%
MA MASTERCARD, INC. 382.29 -4.22 -1.09%

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"Visa is committed to maintaining stability in our payments system and will not make any future rate changes for another year while the economy recovers," a Visa spokesperson told FOX Business.

The decision comes after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., sent a letter to the chief executives of Visa and Mastercard earlier this month asking the companies not to increase interchange rates, saying it would undermine economic recovery efforts.

"Our nation is still reeling from the ongoing pandemic," Durbin and Welch wrote. "And your fee rates are more than high enough already. This is not the time to take advantage of your position to squeeze more dollars out of your fellow Americans.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal document, reported that the companies had planned to raise interchange fees for certain online purchases by about 0.05 to 0.10 of a percentage point.

Earlier in the pandemic, Visa issued reductions on interchange rates for supermarkets and grocery stores and deferred interchange rate changes for in-store retailer transactions.

As part of this plan, the company is now postponing adjustments to rates applying to online transactions.

Both consumers and businesses have relied on digital payments throughout the course of the pandemic from tapping a card or phone to avoid using cash or enabling the "exponential shift" to e-commerce, curbside pickup and delivery, according to Visa.

The company believes its latest combined efforts will not only further support the recovery of the economy, but it will benefit "businesses and consumers alike."

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Similarly, while Mastercard is "encouraged by the signs of economic recovery," the company says it's still aware of the current condition of the economy.

"Mindful that some merchants are still facing unprecedented circumstances, and consistent with our earlier commitment to be thoughtful on the timing of implementation, we are delaying our previously announced interchange adjustments,"  a Mastercard spokesperson told FOX Business.

The company says it has continued to support its merchant partners "by enabling them to keep their businesses open with safe, secure and reliable payments for both in-store and online purchases."

Early in the pandemic, in April 2020, the company committed $250 million to support and protect small businesses in the United States and other markets over the next five years.