(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that it filed a civil antitrust lawsuit challenging rules that American Express, MasterCard and Visa currently have in place that prevent merchants from offering rewards, discounts and information about card costs. As a result, consumers ultimately end up paying more for purchases.
“With today’s lawsuit we are sending a clear message: We will not tolerate anticompetitive practices,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We want to put more money in consumers’ pockets, and by eliminating credit card companies’ anticompetitive rules, we will accomplish that.”
According to the statement from the Justice Department, a proposed settlement with Visa and MasterCard has also been filed, that, if approved by the court, would require for the two companies to allow merchants to offer consumer discounts, incentives and encourage the use of less costly methods of payment.
The proposed settlement states that merchants that only accept Visa and MasterCard will be allowed to take advantage of the relief immediately. However, ongoing litigation against American Express will seek to allow merchants that accept its credit card to engage in the same kind of relief named in the proposed settlement with MasterCard and Visa.
Once American Express files its response to the government's lawsuit, the court will determine a pretrial schedule for the case against the company.