AmEx Reinstates Policy That Prohibits Merchant Steering
American Express has officially reinstated its longstanding policy preventing merchants from steering customers to cheaper payment options. The credit card giant chose to do this after a federal appeals court lifted the ban that forced the company to suspend the policy in the first place.
AmEx and merchants have battled in court for months over the anti-steering policy. Merchants argue that preventing them from promoting other payment options not only damages their profits, but is also anticompetitive. A lower court ruled in favor of the merchants earlier this year, but that ruling was overturned last week by the federal appeals court.
The American Express employees in charge of merchant relations have been told to start enforcing the policy immediately.
Though the anti-steering policy has been inactive for a large portion of the year, many merchants still operated as if it was in place. Some did so in fear of repercussions from AmEx, while others did so because they felt consumers don’t want to be told how to pay for their goods.
American Express cards continue to have higher processing fees than Visa, MasterCard and Discover, which is why some merchants refuse to accept AmEx cards. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of loyal customers and merchants who will utilize the American Express network, regardless of the fees and policy changes.