Amazon will stop accepting payments using Visa credit cards in the UK from January next year, as card fees remain “an obstacle” to providing the best prices.
The decision, which will not affect Visa debit cards, was a response to what Amazon sees as overly high transaction costs. Amazon said these should be coming down, but remain higher and are even increasing. It will stop accepting Visa credit card payments in the UK on 19 January.
“The cost of accepting card payments continues to be an obstacle for businesses striving to provide the best prices for customers,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “These costs should be going down over time with technological advancements, but instead they continue to stay high or even rise.”
In its message to customers, Amazon said: “Starting 19 January 2022, we will unfortunately no longer accept Visa credit cards issued in the UK, due to the high fees Visa charges for processing credit card transactions. You can still use debit cards (including Visa debit cards) and non-Visa credit cards such as Mastercard, Amex, and Eurocard to make purchases.”
The online giant also asked customers to update payment methods, including for Prime membership and any subscriptions.
Visa said it is disappointed and accused Amazon of “threatening to restrict consumer choice in the future”.
“UK shoppers can use their Visa debit and credit cards at Amazon UK today and throughout the holiday season,” added a Visa spokesperson.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Amazon, and we continue to work toward a resolution so our cardholders can use their preferred Visa credit cards at Amazon UK without Amazon-imposed restrictions come January 2022.”
David Bannister, chief analyst at Bloor Research, said that he was so surprised to receive the message from Amazon that he thought it was a scam email. “But it is not that unusual for retailers to refuse to take payments from certain cards due to costs,” he added.
Gareth Lodge, financial services analyst at Celent, said that he was taken aback by the news. He agreed that it is not uncommon for retailers, often small, to refuse to take certain cards, but said “it is very surprising that one of the biggest retailers in the world stops taken payments from a card with such a high share of credit card payments”.
Peter Kimpton, personal fnance expert at Family Money said: "Due to Visa’s high credit card transaction fees, it’s no wonder Amazon is stopping their use on site. Although a market leader, Amazon needs to be able to remain competitive with their many online competitors, as well as small businesses that people are trying to support more and more, especially after the pandemic.
With this in mind, they need to be able to charge the lowest prices possible and still make a profit, so it makes sense that the first thing to try and make cuts on is transaction fees.
Visa has responded by criticising Amazon for restricting consumer choice, however, I don’t feel this will be a problem, with many consumers opting to have more than one credit card as well as multiple debit cards. I predict Amazon will see no decrease in sales due to this change, and we might even see other large retailers following suit.”
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