Consumer Payment Card News

Debit Confusion

If you bring a MasterCard signature debit card into Wal-Mart next year, then be prepared to use your PIN, or to whip out your checkbook, or dig in your wallet for cash at the check-out. The decision by the world’s largest chain of discount stores is likely to embolden other retailers to pick and choose which cards they’ll accept. Thanks to a recent settlement in a lawsuit between retailers and the two largest payment card networks, consumers will face confusion and new fees when it comes to signing debit card transactions. Wal-Mart says MasterCard’s fee for its signature debit cards are too high, and that it will no longer accept the card after February 1st. Wal-Mart says this will save consumers money even though MasterCard signature debit cards account for less than 1% of Wal-Mart’s total transactions. Besides risking an embarrassing situation at the check-out, Wal-Mart’s decision will also shift the cost of accepting a debit card to the consumer. Many banks now charge a per transaction fee if you use a PIN at the point-of-sale, or a fee for not making at least one non-PIN debit card transaction each month.

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