UK News Here's what to do when Amazon bars Visa credit cards
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Millions of Amazon customers will be blocked from making purchases with a Visa credit card from Wednesday, the online retailer has warned.
It has taken the dramatic step to ban these payments due to what it claims are 'high fees' Visa charges to process transactions.
Here's what you need to know.
Will I be affected?
Millions of businesses and individuals in the UK use Visa credit cards. Barclaycard and HSBC are among the banks who issue them.
Customers of Amazon and Amazon Prime will be affected, as well as those with subscriptions linked to Amazon, such as with Audible.
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What do I need to do?
If you are an Amazon customer and make purchases using your Visa credit card, you will need to use a debit card instead, or find a new credit card provider.
If you store your bank details with Amazon to make payments easier, you will have to change those too.
Should I switch to debit card?
You could, but there are good reasons for sticking with a credit card – so long as you pay your bill in full every month.
If you make a purchase using a credit card costing between £100 and £30,000 you are protected by consumer rules.
These mean your credit card provider must take the same responsibility as the retailer if something goes wrong.
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If you use Amazon Marketplace, you may find this protection particularly reassuring.
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So I'll apply for a Mastercard?
You could, but be careful. Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at wealth platform Hargreaves Lansdown, warns: 'If you want to continue to pay with a credit card, you may have to apply for a Mastercard one, which isn't just an irritation, but could affect your credit record too.
'Banks are more wary about lending to people who already have access to a lot of credit.'
Why is this happening?
Amazon says it is taking the step because of Visa's 'high fees'.
Last year, Visa increased the fees it charges on online and over-the-phone transactions made between UK shoppers and EU-based businesses from 0.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent.
While Britain was in the EU, purchases were protected by an EU-wide transaction cost cap, but that cap is no longer in place.
Mastercard also increased its fees by the same amount. However, Amazon has not taken the same approach with Mastercard, with which the retailer issues credit cards.
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Amazon is currently offering a £20 gift card to new Amazon Platinum Mastercard customers.
Will it definitely go ahead?
Some experts had predicted that Amazon's threat was designed to make Visa cut its fees.
However, since neither party has budged, consumers must plan for it going ahead. Visa has said it is 'very disappointed' with Amazon's decision.
'When consumer choice is limited, nobody wins,' it added.
And the regulator's view?
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), which oversees these fees, says it is looking into it.
Last week, the regulator revealed that it had not seen evidence that costs for card issuers have increased sufficiently to warrant higher fees.
Writing to the Treasury Select Committee, PSR boss Chris Hemsley said: 'Our proposed work will be looking more closely at the reasoning behind the recent increases and whether this indicates any themes or concerns that warrant action from us.'
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