Visa and MasterCard could reach a settlement as part of an antitrust suit from the U.S. Justice Department as early as this week over the interchange fees they charge vendors, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. At issue is the way the networks attempt to prohibit store owners from encouraging customers to take on credit card debt with accounts that would carry lower swipe fees. The practice, known as "steering," is technically legal in some circumstances.
The suit comes because the Justice Department deemed Visa and MasterCard's rules related to how merchants are discouraged from these practices related to credit card debt to be "anticompetitive," though the settlements likely won't include any fines because it's a civil case.
In the past, networks actively prohibited store owners from setting minimum amounts for purchases involving credit card debt, though the federal regulations outlawed these restrictions.