Merchant Point of Sales Practices

Revisions to MasterCard Standards Regarding
Merchant Point of Sales Practices

What You Need To Know

In October 2010, MasterCard entered into a consent decree and final judgment with the U.S. Department of Justice, whereby MasterCard agreed to modify MasterCard Rule 5.11.1, "Discrimination". Those modifications, which became effective on July 27, 2011, clarify merchant practices as they relate to a merchant's ability to encourage the use of cards with other brands, other forms of payment, or particular types of MasterCard® cards.

The substance of United States Region Rule 5.13 "Discounts or Other Benefits at the Point of Interaction" of the MasterCard Rules, in which a merchant is prohibited from offering a discount or other benefit at the point of interaction for using a particular issuer's card unless the discount or other benefit is accessed after the transaction is completed or if the discount or other benefit is accessed via a separate instrument, remains in effect. In an effort to clarify merchant discounting practices under one rule, MasterCard has moved the language previously contained in Rule 5.13 into Rule 5.11.1.

See the revised MasterCard United States Region Rule 5.11.1 "Discrimination" below.

MasterCard Rules
Chapter 15—United States Region Rules

5.11.1 Discrimination

Rule 5.11.1 of Chapter 5, "Merchants and Sales Transactions," is replaced with the following:

A Merchant may request or encourage a customer to use a payment card with an acceptance brand other than MasterCard or other form of payment or a Card of a different product type (e.g., traditional cards, premium cards, rewards cards) than the Card the consumer initially presents. Except where prohibited by law, it may do so by methods that include, but are not limited to:

  1. offering the customer an immediate discount from the Merchant's list, stated, or standard price, a rebate, a free or discounted product or service, or any other incentive or benefit if the customer uses a particular payment card with an acceptance brand other than MasterCard or other particular form of payment;
  2. offering the customer an immediate discount from the Merchant's list, stated, or standard price, a rebate, a free or discounted product or service, or any other incentive or benefit if the customer, who initially presents a Card, uses instead another payment card or another form of payment;
  3. expressing a preference for the use of a particular payment card or form of payment;
  4. promoting the use of a particular general purpose payment card with an acceptance brand other than MasterCard or the use of a particular form or forms of payment through posted information, through the size, prominence, or sequencing of payment choices, or through other communications to customers (provided that the Merchant will abide by the Standards relating to the display of the Marks including, but not limited to, the MasterCard Acceptance Mark); or
  5. communicating to customers the reasonably estimated or actual costs incurred by the Merchant when a customer uses particular payment cards or forms of payment or the relative costs of using different general purpose payment cards or forms of payment.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, a Merchant may not offer a discount or other benefit to a Cardholder if the Cardholder uses a particular Issuer's Card at the Point of Interaction (POI), unless the discount or other benefit is available for all other Cards of the same product type or is accessed 1) after the Transaction has been completed (for example, a credit on the billing statement or a rebate); or 2) at the time of or after the Transaction and is effected by a separate instrument and not by the Card (for example, a coupon or a voucher). A Merchant at the POI must not promote a discount or other benefit for use of a particular Issuer's Card.

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