A settlement website has recently been established for Class Members in the Visa, Mastercard swipe fee class action lawsuit.
A federal judge preliminarily approved the proposed Visa, Mastercard Swipe Fee settlement that is estimated to be between $5.54 billion and $6.24 billion.
The massive settlement was approved after an additional $900 million was added for Class Members.
While Claim Forms are not currently available, the website provided an opportunity for Class Members to pre-register to receive one.
Class Members include merchants, individuals and organizations, who accepted Visa and/or Mastercard branded credit or debit cards nationwide between Jan. 1, 2004 through Jan. 25, 2019.
Plaintiffs accused Visa, Mastercard, and banks of inflating the “interchange fee” they charged to merchants to use credit and debit cards.
An interchange fee is assessed to merchants accepting credit and debit cards. It typically ranges from one to two percent of the purchase and is set by the credit card company.
Initially separate class action lawsuits were lodged against the financial institutions, but the claims were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The credit card companies have offered almost $7 billion to exit the MDL; however, Visa and Mastercard’s first offer of settlement was appealed in 2013.
Under the terms of the original settlement, credit card companies were not barred from hiking fees in the future.
Additionally, merchants themselves were not barred from transferring increased credit card swipe fees onto their customers.
Further, Class Members under the original class action settlement were separated into two groups; one that would receive a monetary award and another Class who would receive injunctive relief only.
The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed approval of the original settlement agreement. The Court determined that the two proposed Classes required separate representatives to adequately protect Class Members’ interests.
Visa and Mastercard will reportedly pay the lion’s share of the settlement, with other defendant banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Capital One and others, paying the difference.
The settlement amount may range from a minimum of approximately $5.5 billion to $6.2 billion because some larger merchants reportedly may choose to pursue separate litigation against the credit card companies.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Class Members will get awards based on their actual or estimated interchange fees charged by Visa or Mastercard between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 25, 2019.