Did you know that Visa conducts on-site audits using secret shoppers to determine if a merchant is in violation of Visa rules regarding Surcharging and Minimum or Maximum transaction amounts?
These audits are intended to determine if a merchant is:
1. Assessing a surcharge on debit card transactions and/or prepaid card transactions, or
2. Imposing a Minimum Transaction Amount as a condition for honoring a Visa debit card or prepaid card.
These actions are not allowed under the Visa Rules.
A payment card surcharge, also known as a checkout fee, is an additional fee that a merchant adds to a consumer's bill when he or she uses a card for payment.
Surcharging is not permitted by Visa, Mastercard, or Discover on prepaid cards or debit cards (even if run as credit).
Take these actions to be compliant with Visa rules on surcharging:
- Cease surcharging when a debit card or prepaid card is used by a customer.
- If you choose to add a surcharge on credit purchases, you must first notify Visa and your acquirer at least 30 days prior to implementing surcharging. You can submit a notification form to Visa at www.visa.com/merchantsurcharging
- Setting Minimum or Maximum Transaction Amounts
A minimum purchase amount is the smallest transaction value at which a customer can pay by credit card. For example, if you set a minimum purchase amount of $10, your customer would need to purchase at least $10 worth of goods or services if they want to use their credit card.
Minimum Transaction Amounts are permitted on credit card transactions only Establishing a Minimum Transaction Amount as a condition for honoring a Visa debit card or a prepaid card is a violation of Visa Rules.
If you choose to set a minimum amount to credit card transactions, you must adhere to the following requirements:
- Minimum Transaction Amount must not exceed $10
- Minimum Transaction Amount must not discriminate between issuers (the entity that issues the credit card) or between Visa and other card brands and networks such as American Express and Mastercard.
- The card used must be a credit card. Minimum transaction amounts cannot be applied to debit cards even if the customer swipes or uses the chip. A debit card cannot be treated like a credit card no matter how the customer uses it to make a payment.
When it comes to setting a maximum purchase amount, there’s not as much wiggle room. In general, maximum purchase amounts are prohibited. There are only exceptions for very specific types of businesses.
If your business wants to begin implementing a maximum purchase amount, you must be either a government agency or an educational institution. Make sure you give your processor a call to confirm that they have your business categorized correctly, and that nothing else prohibits you from instituting the maximum purchase amount. As with credit cards, maximum purchase requirements for debit card purchases are not allowed.
Take these actions to be compliant with Visa rules on setting Minimum or Maximum Transaction Amounts:
- Cease applying Minimum Transaction Amounts to transactions where a debit card is used by the customer.
- Card used must be a credit card. A debit card cannot be treated like a credit card no matter how the customer uses it to make a payment.
Important note regarding continued violations of Visa rules
Should any repeat violations be discovered during Visa’s on-site audits, Non-Compliance Assessments will be imposed immediately by Visa and no time will be provided to remediate for fine avoidance.
Merchants with a history of prior violations, or continued non-compliance, will be subject to increased fines per occurrence with first level fines between $5,000.00-$25,000.00 per location and potential termination of service with their processor.
It is very important to understand the rules and abide by them going forward.
Quikstone is committed to bringing you the latest information from the card brands. For more information on surcharging and minimum or maximum transaction guidelines, please refer to the links below.
If you have additional questions, contact Visa directly at VisaRules@visa.com