| December 23, 2010

Utah joins lawsuit against major credit card companies

This week, Utah became the latest state to join an ongoing antitrust lawsuit against major credit card companies.

The Department of Justice, along with 18 states, say that Visa, MasterCard and American Express are unfairly discouraging merchants from steering customers with lower merchant fees.

In addition, they say these could lead to lower prices in retail stores and help lower Americans’ credit card debt, Utah news provider Deseret News reports. Further, the states say the issuers are restricting competition among themselves based on the fees.

“The three credit card companies have such a high share of the market that merchants cannot afford to refuse their cards and they have no practical choice other than paying the higher fees,” said assistant attorney general David Sonnenreich, who represents Utah in the suit, according to the news source.

The suit hopes to get credit card companies to eliminate these practices and allow merchants to offer discounts, rebates and other incentives to consumers who use cards with lower fees. So far, Visa and MasterCard have already settled out of court. American Express, however, intends to fight the lawsuit in court.

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