Visa is planning the biggest changes to swipe fees in a decade

Visa Inc. is planning the biggest changes in a decade to the rates U.S. merchants pay to accept its cards, hoping to persuade more people to abandon checks and adjusting its fees for new businesses such as ride-hailing services.

The company’s interchange rates — fees charged every time a consumer uses a card — will go up or down depending on the merchant and the way a consumer pays for their purchases, according to a document Visa sent to banks that outlines the changes. Higher rates are looming for transactions on e-commerce sites, while retailers in certain services categories, such as real estate and education, will see fees decline.

“The U.S. credit interchange structure has been largely unchanged for the past 10 years,” Visa said in the document, which was seen by Bloomberg. “Based on the most recent review in the U.S., Visa is adjusting its default U.S. interchange rate structure to optimize acceptance and usage and reflect the current value of Visa products.”

While the changes amount to just a few cents on every transaction, those pennies add up. Swipe fees are already a flashpoint between merchants, banks and payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard Inc. Retailers have long complained about the more than $100 billion they spend each year to accept electronic payments, a figure that’s grown in recent years as fees increase and consumers flock to premium cards, which carry higher interchange rates.

 

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