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Visa cracks down on surcharge programs

Payments Dive

The increased enforcement by Visa comes as the battle over interchange fees, also known as swipe fees, escalates, with the card network pursuing its right to increase the fees and merchants trying to keep them in check. The surcharges come into play when merchants try to recoup the cost of the interchange fees by imposing a surcharge on customers who use credit cards.

Visa has made clear that it’s not a fan of such surcharges, with its CEO, Ryan McInerney, telling analysts last year that “it’s not a great customer experience.” At the same time, he acknowledged it’s merchants’ choice whether to tack on the surcharge. Though they must abide by Visa’s rules with respect to added charges.

The memo from the Priority Payment Systems unit, which processes credit card payments in partnership with independent sales organizations, made clear that Visa is aiming to better enforce those rules.

“Both Priority and its sponsor banks have aligned with card brand regulations, and it has come to our attention that Visa is intensifying the enforcement of the Surcharge Rules,” the memo said. “To safeguard our partnered merchants from potential fines imposed by card brands due to non-compliance, we strongly urge you to conduct a thorough review of both existing and new surcharge programs associated with your merchants.”

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