Consumer Payment Card News

Pump Relief?

Visa announced last week it intends to reduce some of the fees that gas station merchants pay, and later this year will speed-up the clearing of transactions. For consumers, Visa will raise its gas station transaction limits and eventually eliminate debit card holds. However, the Merchants Payments Coalition says Visa’s announcement that it will reduce fees on gasoline transactions may actually result in higher fees for gas station owners. Effective July 18th, interchange for Visa consumer debit cards will be capped at $0.95 per transaction. Effective in October, or sooner for some fuel merchants, Visa credit interchange applied to fuel transactions has been restructured into a single, lower rate across all consumer credit card transactions. This fall, Visa will also implement “Real-Time Clearing” which will enable fuel transactions to be processed immediately instead of at the end of the day and eliminate the holds generally placed on consumer debit card transactions. Until the new processing changes are implemented in Visa’s October systems upgrade, Visa is allowing consumer fuel transactions up to $125 to qualify for its best-available interchange rates. This interim step is effective July 18th and will remain in place through October 2009. Once gas stations and their financial institutions migrate to “Real-Time Clearing,” consumer fuel transactions up to $500 can qualify for Visa’s best available interchange rates. The National Association of Convenience Stores says the changes will raise fees for those transactions under $60 for those customers using regular Visa credit cards without a rewards program. The MPC says that on debit card transactions, the cap on interchange may only apply to gasoline purchases of more than $97.50. That is a small number of transactions, especially because Visa banks reserve the right not to give gasoline retailers anything more than $75 on a sale.

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