How Can Merchants Claim Their Share of the Visa-Mastercard Interchange Settlement?

How Can Merchants Claim Their Share of the Visa-Mastercard Interchange Settlement?

Posted: May 10, 2024 | Updated: May 20, 2024

Mastercard and Visa recently reached a settlement in a lawsuit where they were accused of imposing excessive fees on business owners. This legal case, known as the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, has been an ongoing issue in the United States and has culminated in a substantial $5.54 billion settlement involving Visa, Mastercard, and various financial institutions. The deadline for submitting claims to Visa Mastercard Interchange Settlement is set for May 31, 2024. The settlement aims to resolve allegations of anti-competitive behavior, specifically accusations of fixing interchange fees charged to merchants for accepting payment cards.

An Overview of the Visa-Mastercard Interchange Settlement

This lawsuit primarily concerns the interchange fees charged to merchants who accepted Mastercard or Visa credit or debit cards between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019. It also examines the rules that Mastercard and Visa enforced on these merchants. The merchants contend that Mastercard, Visa, and their respective member banks unlawfully established these fees. Additionally, they argue that both companies imposed restrictive rules that prevented merchants from directing customers toward alternative payment methods.

These rules included prohibitions on surcharges and discounts and mandatory acceptance of all cards, which shielded Mastercard and Visa from competitive pressures to reduce their fees. The lawsuit further alleges that Mastercard and Visa conspired on some contentious business practices and continued these practices even after both companies were restructured to become publicly owned corporations. Merchants claim that such actions led to them paying excessively high interchange fees.

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They suggest that with Mastercard and Visa conduct, the interchange fees would exist and would have been higher. Conversely, they maintain their innocence, arguing that their business practices are lawful, a result of independent competition, and beneficial to merchants and consumers.

The lawsuit against Mastercard and Visa has been ongoing for over 18 years since it was initiated by Robins Kaplan, who served as co-lead counsel. Representing over 10 million US merchants, the legal team advanced an innovative argument that the interchange fee structure and the accompanying rules set by Mastercard and Visa stifled competition. This foundational lawsuit set the stage for the subsequent consolidated case, eventually leading to a significant settlement.

A settlement was reached in 2012 but later overturned on appeal. In 2018, a renegotiated settlement of $6.2 billion was achieved and received final approval in December 2019. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed this settlement in March 2022 and, by March 2023, after extensive legal proceedings, approved a monetary agreement. This means the Court has not determined whether either party was correct or any laws were broken. Instead, both parties have agreed to settle the dispute to avoid the expenses and uncertainties of a trial and any subsequent appeals.

Under this agreement, approximately $5.54 billion was allocated to be distributed among the merchants who accepted Mastercard and Visa between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019. In January 2024, claim forms for this settlement began to be distributed, with a filing deadline set for May 31, 2024. To help merchants navigate the claims process and maximize their recoveries, Host Merchant Services, North America’s most trusted merchant account provider, has partnered with Certificate Clearing.

What Does It Mean to You?

The settlement between Mastercard Visa and U.S. merchants in March 2024 could benefit merchants by reducing costs and enhancing payment processing methods. The agreement suggests reducing interchange fees—fees that merchants incur to process credit card payments—by 0.04 percentage points for three years from the current average of around 2%. Additionally, the settlement grants merchants greater control over their payment processing, allowing them to direct payments toward preferred networks or specific types of credit cards. Merchants could also impose surcharges on cards with higher transaction fees, potentially increasing the cost of using premium cards.

This significant legal settlement permits qualifying businesses to claim their portion of fees paid between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019. It is important to note that companies that are no longer operational may still qualify for compensation if they were active during this period.

If you believe you are eligible, you must file your claim for the $5.54 billion Mastercard and Visa settlement by May 31, 2024. Administrators distributed claim forms in December 2023 and January 2024.

What Is the Eligibility for the Mastercard and Visa Interchange Settlement?

Visa-Mastercard Interchange Settlement

Specific merchants who meet these requirements may be eligible for reimbursement through the MasterCard and Visa settlement:

  1. Business Eligibility:

This settlement covered businesses, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and specific non-profit organizations that accepted cards bearing the Mastercard or Visa brands.

  1. Transaction Period:

The qualifying companies had to have taken Mastercard or Visa-branded credit cards between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019.

  1. Card Brands:

The settlement did not cover private card networks or other payment networks, only Mastercard and Visa-branded cards.

  1. Geographic Requirement:

The cards must have been accepted within the US.

  1. Exclusions:

Certain entities were not eligible for the settlement, including:

  • The plaintiffs were previously dismissed from the lawsuit.
  • Financial institutions or Banks that issued Mastercard or Visa cards or accepted transactions throughout the specified period.
  • Government Entity.
  • MasterCard, Visa, related institutions, and affiliates are named defendants in this action.
  1. Transaction Volume:

There is no minimum number of transactions needed to be eligible. Any company that accepts the designated cards within the allotted time frame may be eligible.

  1. Damage Requirement:

Merchants didn’t need to demonstrate they had been adversely affected by interchange fees to qualify for the settlement.

How Can You Claim Your Settlement?

To claim your settlement, you have two options: either submit a valid and timely claim via the court-authorized website or wait until you receive a settlement notice.

Alternatively, you can expedite the process by collaborating with Host Merchant Services. We offer an extensive approach that continues even after the settlement period. Host Merchant Services have teamed up with Certificate Clearing Corporation (CCC), which has successfully filed over 13 million claims and secured over $2 billion for class members across numerous settlements. CCC specializes in class action settlements that offer cash or transferable coupon payouts.

Furthermore, through Host Merchant Services and Certificate Clearing Corporation, you can monetize claims for early cash payouts in the $5.54 billion Visa-Mastercard class action settlement. CCC actively bids to purchase claims, potentially increasing the value of an award or providing immediate financial benefit. To accelerate this process, you can complete the form here by filling in simple details:

Conclusion

The Mastercard and Visa interchange settlement represents a significant milestone for merchants, promising relief from the burden of excessive swipe fees and offering avenues for financial recovery. This legal resolution, stemming from years of litigation and negotiation, marks a turning point in the relationship between major credit card companies and businesses. This settlement empowers merchants to assert greater control over their payment processing costs and methods by addressing allegations of anti-competitive behavior and providing avenues for compensation.

With the claim deadline fast approaching, eligible merchants must seize this opportunity and submit their claims promptly. Whether navigating the claims process independently or seeking assistance from trusted partners like Host Merchant Services and Certificate Clearing Corporation, merchants stand to benefit from this landmark settlement, ushering in a new era of fairness and transparency in payment processing.

recommended article Learn more about the Visa MasterCard Class Action Settlement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is eligible to claim part of the settlement?

    Businesses in the United States that accepted Visa and MasterCard payments from January 1, 2004, to January 25, 2019, can participate. This includes various businesses like grocers, retailers, and restaurants.

  2. What constitutes a valid claim?

    Eligible merchants who didn’t opt out of the settlement class must submit a valid claim. The claim should accurately reflect Mastercard and Visa transactions during the eligible period and include all required documentation per the settlement guidelines.

  3. When will merchants receive their payments?

    Payments are expected after the claim deadline on May 31, 2024. The exact timing depends on claim reviews and court approvals, so a payment date must be made.

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