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Amazon to ban Visa credit cards in the UK in battle over payment fees

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More Brexit fallout

Visa logos appear on credit and debit cards arranged for a p Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon will stop accepting payments from Visa credit cards issued in the UK from January 19th, 2022. Customers will still be able to use Visa debit cards issued in the UK, as well as credit cards issued by MasterCard, American Express, and other firms.

Amazon is blocking UK credit cards from Visa as part of an ongoing battle over “interchange” fees — levies charged by card issuers to a merchant’s bank for each transaction. Visa’s interchange fees for transactions between the UK and the European Union (where Amazon UK processes payments) were previously capped at 0.3 percent by EU law. But since the UK left the EU, Visa has been able to hike that fee to 1.5 percent.

However, Visa isn’t the only company to make such a change. MasterCard made an identical increase to its interchange fees before Visa, but it hasn’t been blocked by Amazon. It’s not entirely clear why Visa has been singled out. It may simply be a strategic decision on Amazon’s part — to hurt one company instead of taking on an entire industry. Or there may be specific complications in Visa’s payment policies. For example, Bloomberg notes that the company has increased interchange fees for e-commerce sites, while reducing fees in other areas, like education and real estate purchases. It’s not clear if policies from MasterCard or other card issuers make similar distinctions.

In a statement from an Amazon, the company said:

“The cost of accepting card payments continues to be an obstacle for businesses striving to provide the best prices for customers. These costs should be going down over time with technological advancements, but instead they continue to stay high or even rise. As a result of Visa’s continued high cost of payments, we regret that Amazon.co.uk will no longer accept UK-issued Visa credit cards as of 19 January, 2022. Customers can continue to use all debit cards (including Visa debit cards) and other non-Visa credit cards to shop on Amazon.co.uk.”

While a spokesperson for Visa told BBC News:

“UK shoppers can use their Visa debit and credit cards at Amazon UK today and throughout the holiday season. We are very disappointed that Amazon is threatening to restrict consumer choice in the future. When consumer choice is limited, nobody wins. We have a long-standing relationship with Amazon, and we continue to work toward a resolution, so our cardholders can use their preferred Visa credit cards at Amazon UK without Amazon-imposed restrictions come January 2022.”