If you or your business accepted Visa or Mastercard-branded Credit or Debit cards since January 1, 2004, you may be entitled to participate in an approximate settlement fund of as much as $6.26 billion, but no less than $5.56 billion.
The dispute began in 2005, when Visa and Mastercard were still owned by banks. Merchants had accused them of violating antitrust laws by illegally inflating swipe fees, or interchange, that merchants pay on every purchase transaction and which banks use to fund consumers’ credit card rewards. The two payments networks have since gone public — Mastercard in 2006, and Visa in 2008 — and their shares have soared. This isn’t the first time a settlement has been reached in the case. In 2013, the parties struck a then-record $5.7 billion deal that was approved by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, only to have a federal appeals court reject it three years later, ruling that a provision that barred merchants from suing over fees was unfair. The court also said that lawyers who represented retailers nationwide didn’t do enough to protect their interests. Gleeson stepped down from the bench in 2016 and the case is now assigned to Judge Margo K. Brodie.
After tossing out the earlier settlement, the court divided the merchants’ claims into two separate classes, one that focused on monetary damages and the other on making changes to Visa and Mastercard’s business practices. The proposed settlement is for the class focused on monetary damages.
The earlier settlement was for as much as $7.25 billion, but the value was reduced after many of the country’s largest retailers, including Starbucks and Lowe’s Cos., opted out. Those merchants will have to decide whether to do so again once an opt out date has been set.
When a cardholder makes a purchase with a credit or debit card, there is an interchange fee attributable to those transactions, which is usually 1% to 2% of the purchase price. Interchange fees typically account for the greatest part of the fees paid by merchants for accepting Visa and MasterCard cards. Visa and MasterCard set interchange fee rates for different kinds of transactions and publish them on their websites, usually twice a year.
Claim forms are being delivered and are available online Beginning December 1st 2023. The filing deadline has been set for May 31st 2024. Class members need not sign up for any third party service in order to participate in any monetary relief. No cost assistance is available from the class administrator and class counsel during the claims filing period. For additional information regarding the status of the settlement, interested persons may visit www.paymentcardsettlement.com, the Court-approved website for this case.