Kroger threatens ban on Visa credit cards

Kroger threatens ban on Visa credit cards

Foods Co., in California, will stop accepting Visa cards this month at its 21 stores and five fuel centers if the two companies can't work out their differences.

"Visa is disappointed at Kroger's decision to stop accepting Visa credit cards at its Foods Co. stores", the company said.

But the action could be more far-reaching. Cincinnati-based Kroger is considering expanding the ban to more of its stores if it doesn't reach a deal with Visa on fees at Foods Co. stores, the company's chief information officer Chris Hjelm says.

Kroger, the biggest supermarket chain in the US, is barring the use of Visa cards at some stores in a dispute over the "swipe" fees it pays to handle customers' credit and debit card transactions. If that means a ban at additional stores, "that's what we will have to do", he said.

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Retailers pay almost $90 billion a year in swipe fees. Visa debit cards and other major credit cards will still be accepted.

According to an interview with Bloomberg News, Kroger is considering making the change at its other affiliated divisions. Swipe fees are incurred by retailers each time a consumer uses a card. Shares of Visa, American Express and Mastercard all dropped on Monday.

The grocer said the move will save customers from higher prices, Foods Co. president Bryan Kaltenbach in a statement. "The savings will be passed along to Foods Co. customers in the form of low everyday prices on the items shoppers purchase most".

The decision was made to save on the high costs associated with Visa's "interchange rates and network fees", Foods Co. said in a statement. "Visa remains committed to working with Kroger to reach a reasonable solution".

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