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How to Report Visa and MasterCard Violations

Written by Nickel - 44 Comments

In the past week, I’ve written up the credit card acceptance guidelines for both Visa and MasterCard. But what if a merchant doesn’t follow the guidelines? What recourse do you have?

In short, you can report them to Visa or MasterCard and (hopefully) corrective action will be taken. Here’s how to get in touch with the two companies…

Reporting Visa credit card violations

Perhaps the easiest way to get in touch with Visa is to call them at 1-800-VISA-911. Alternatively, you can call the number on the back of your card.

If you would prefer to send a written complaint, you can address it to:

Visa U.S.A. Inc.
P.O. Box 194607
San Francisco, CA 94119-4607

You might also be able to register your complaint online through your card issuer’s website, but Visa doesn’t have a centralized way of doing this.

Reporting MasterCard credit card violations

Once again, you can call in your complaint to 1-800-MASTERCARD, or you can call the number on the back of your card.

Alternatively, you can register your complaint online via the MasterCard Merchant Violations page. You’ll be asked for your name and address, details about the merchant, and the nature of the problem. There is also space for freeform comments.

Have you ever reported a merchant?

Have you ever reported a merchant for violating the terms of their credit card agreement? Perhaps they required ID, attempted to add a surcharge to your purchase, or tried to enforce a minimum purchase amount.

If so, please share your experience in the comments.

Published on March 5th, 2010 - 44 Comments
Filed under: Credit Cards

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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44 Responses to “How to Report Visa and MasterCard Violations”

  1. 1
    priscilla Says:

    I was all psyched when I found out that I could report merchants that required ID as I find being treated like a criminal insulting. The first and last call I made I was greeted like I was nuts and told to write a letter. I did and I received nothing back. Face it folks they don’t care they don’t have to. Welcome to the future!

  2. 2
    PC Says:

    I’ve previously understood about the ‘cannot require a minimum purchase’. However, its interesting to learn that merchants cannot set a maximum credit card purchase amount.
    Is that really so ? Twice I have come across this when buying a car. There are two local car dealers who have specifically said that the maximum they would accept on a new car purchase, on a credit card, is $2000.

  3. 3
    Ryan Says:

    The local ice cream shop started adding a 50 cent fee to debt/credit card transactions unless your order was over 5 dollars.

    I was ticked. I wish now that I would have said “Um…no thanks.” and left, but I really wanted that ice cream cone at the time!

  4. 4
    The Rat Says:

    I’ve never had to report a violations, but I’ve been contacted by VISA before because someone was trying to use my card number in another country.

    Nice post.

  5. 5
    K at Greenshield Says:

    SOmetimes as writers we get so carried away trying to explain the difficult that we forget the very basic needs, like this. Thank you for this article.

  6. 6
    Steve Says:

    I’ve reported a car dealership for putting a maximum credit card amount on the transaction (both minimums and maximums are prohibited by their agreement). I wrote a letter and of course nothing was done. I got a letter back from Visa saying that merchants can’t put a maximum amount, but of course nothing was enforced.

    Credit card companies also don’t even pursue fraud unless it’s some massive scale. I’ve had cases where I knew the address of someone stealing a card, and they wouldn’t even send out the police – they just consider it cheaper to cancel the card and re-issue.

  7. 7
    Charlie V. Says:

    I have reported violations to Visa and it is a joke. Don’t even bother calling, half the time (at least), they don’t bother taking the information down. I’ve called back a week later and the person answering the phone has no record of my previous call.

    These days when presented with a surcharge or order minimum I will say “no” and walk out.

    Vote with your feet.

  8. 8
    cheezfri Says:

    Whenever I point out to a clerk that they cannot enforce a minimum charge, they just give me a blank stare and have absolutely no idea what I’m mad about. In the rare event I find a manager to get involved, they claim the bank put it in their contract. That’s B.S. I have only filed one complaint with Mastercard so far, and have not heard back from them. And I work for Mastercard!

  9. 9
    Roger Says:

    I usually just dispute the fee. It eventually gets waived by Visa since the merchant doesn’t want the hassle.

  10. 10
    mason barr Says:

    Cricket charges a few to use your card, but doesn’t offer a cash discount.

  11. 11
    pamela Says:

    I have disputed 2 charges, one with AMEX (Blue) and one with Visa (FIA). Both were quickly resolved. I assume the vendor did not want to take these biggies on, but what a relief to have someone with a bigger voice help resolve my issue. If you are in the right, definitely contact the customer services dept and pursue the dispute.

  12. 12
    Floridian Says:

    I wish I knew about the “no maximum” rule when buying my car two years ago – was it in effect two years ago? The dealer would only let us put $5,000 on the card. Honestly, I was surprised they took a credit card at all! I was about to write a check for the whole amount and had simply asked if a personal check was OK, or if I needed to get a cashier’s check. That’s when they said they took all forms of payment, even CC. I said “well in that case, put what you can on the MC!” We pay what we can by CC for the points/rewards, and pay off the card every month so we never pay any interest. I got all excited about the possibility of “earning” over 15K points in one day! Ahhh, but they wouldn’t even do half :( So we put $5K on the card and wrote a check for the rest. I wonder what they would have done if I had known enough to tell them that imposing a maximum was against their agreement…

    Well, I’ll just stash that informational tidbit away in my back pocket…even though I don’t foresee running into that situation again anytime soon…don’t have any big purchases to make in the near future.

  13. 13
    Ron Says:

    How nuts are some people that they don’t even have enough cash to buy an ice cream cone or anything else up to 5 dollars. Do they not know that the credit card companines charge the fee for every tranaction and most of the time their fee is more than the profit on the inexpensive item. Of course they don’t care because they, the credit card companies get theirs up front. How stupid because if you can’t afford to carry enough cash to buy something under 5 dollars you don’t need it.

  14. 14
    Ryan Says:

    Ron,

    I’m not nuts. And I was using a debit card…so debt was never part of the equation.

    I pay for everything I can with a debit card because it’s just easier to use and track.

    Credit card transactions fees are a business expense, just like a cash register or the rent payment. I don’t feel bad that the business loses a few cents. If they don’t want to accept credit/debit, then they shouldn’t. But if they are going to, they need to play by Visa/Mastercard/AMEX/Discover’s rules.

  15. 15
    Ron Says:

    But Ryan they charge the merchant even if you use a debit card. I don’t want to get in an argument over this but I know many people think that a debit card is not a credit card but the card companies don’t care they still charge the merchant for using it. I was trying to imply, and not you necessarily, that people should carry some cash for cases like this. Next time you use it ask the merchant and he will tell you. Have a nice day.

  16. 16
    Ryan Says:

    Oh I know they still have to pay fees, but you stated that the issue was that people buy stuff they “can’t afford”, when in most cases they can. They’re just choosing a method of payment besides cash.

  17. 17
    Anna Says:

    I didn’t know that stores couldn’t require a minimum purchase to use a visa or mastercard. I know off two places close by right off-hand. A salvage grocery and a gas station. There have been times i just didn’t buy anything at the salvage grocery simply because I didn’t want to buy as much as they required.

  18. 18
    Bob Says:

    I shopped at an online merchant called deepsurplus.com. They sell mostly cables, adapters, and tools at great prices, with a minimum order. I notified them in November that they don’t properly use SSL for ordering, and it would be simple for a man-in-the-middle to get customers’ credit card numbers. They did nothing. So after the Christmas season I reported them to both Visa and Mastercard. That was 2 months ago. No noticeable effect. Deep Surplus still allows thieves to capture their customers’ credit card numbers.

    Overall, I like Deep Surplus. Excellent prices, decent quality products, and quick shipping. But I wish they would get their act together security-wise.

    Both Visa and Mastercard officially require that online merchants use SSL for order forms, among other security precautions.

  19. 19
    Eric Says:

    So basically I gather that reporting is useless. Ugh.

  20. 20
    The Poker Meister Says:

    I finally realized today that a vendor where I purchase lunch has been charging me [at least] $0.29 / transaction for a credit card. I have reported the violation via Mastercard’s website and will keep all informed of the progress.

    I can’t imagine how much they must be making, because most people pay with their credit cards. At at least $.29 / transaction, they must be completely shifting their transaction fees to the consumer. I know they have tried to conceal this charge; I asked them why I’m getting charged extra and they always maintained that my order has a side dish that costs extra, etc. – but never told me directly about the surcharge. Finally, I pressed them on it today, and asked for an itemized receipt (they only offer the credit transaction receipt). We’ll see what happens.

  21. 21
    Jacko Madigan Says:

    I have complained about minimum charges. I don’t care if they check for ID or not. I usually write a letter quoting the law to the merchant, VISA, and the CA attorney general and then I don’t go back.

    When I have ‘passed’ by to see if the merchants still charge a fee – usually they do not.

    Most store owners get scared of letters quoting law and possible fines. I am not a credit company fan for sure but the business should go for a cash business instead of ripping off consumers who chose to pay by credit card.

  22. 22
    Nicki Says:

    To Ron in response to his quote below:

    How nuts are YOU to think that these retailers don’t factor the credit card fees into the prices they’re charging you already? They’re just making an extra buck by trying to require a minimum so they don’t get the fee. It’s simple retail business sense. If they don’t consider their expenses when they’re forecasting their profit, they’re not very responsible business owners. They’re the ones that signed the contract – If they can’t follow it, they shouldn’t sign it. Life is so simple sometimes :)

    “13 Ron Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 6:14 pm
    How nuts are some people that they don’t even have enough cash to buy an ice cream cone or anything else up to 5 dollars. Do they not know that the credit card companines charge the fee for every tranaction and most of the time their fee is more than the profit on the inexpensive item. Of course they don’t care because they, the credit card companies get theirs up front. How stupid because if you can’t afford to carry enough cash to buy something under 5 dollars you don’t need it.”

  23. 23
    Barbara Says:

    I’ve reported a store twice now for requiring ID and I have not heard back from anyone. I just went there again today, and they refused to make a credit card sale without photo ID again. What to do?

    If anyone lives near a Honk’s, please use your credit card and continue to complain each time they require ID. I think that’s the only way to get their (credit card companies AND Honks) attention and compliance.

  24. 24
    Rican Press Says:

    Here is where AmericanExpress comes into play. Amex does excellent job when you report their card acceptance refusal by a merchant. They have an online form for that, and you can also mail them a letter. They follow up quickly and notify you via email or mail letter (which one you chose) about what is done and what the results are regarding the particular merchant. And one more thing, if there is any fraud or disputable charges on your AmericanExpress account they put your money back immediately and investigate the fraudulent charge(s) or disputes, and pursue the fraudsters harshly. They have a special department that works in close contact with law enforcement agencies and they push the case hard and put criminals behind the bar. MasterCard and Visa? Ah. They don’t work so hard like Amex does in this regard, because they don’t have one centralized issuer.

  25. 25
    Todd Says:

    Visa does now have an on-line form for reporting surcharges and checkout fees:

    http://usa.visa.com/personal/u.....index.html

  26. 26
    Pang Says:

    RON – that STILL doesn’t make it LEGAL??? . I understand and always try to be mindful of charging less than $5 on my card, but there have been instances where I needed something and dont have the cash on me. I also run and own my own liquor store. I don’t like the charges either but I do everything by the book here. Sure, its a pain in the ass to have to pay the fees, but I knew that and AGREED to the terms before entering into contract! Retailers have a problem with the terms THEY agreed to, then take it up with the credit card companies – NOT your customer. That’s just BAD customer service.

  27. 27
    Ben Says:

    I have no problem using a credit card. Sure, the merchant pays a fee, but it’s expensive in time and paperwork to manage cash. And they make a sale when they otherwise wouldn’t, because I don’t always have cash or want to deal with change. Handling money is complicated and difficult; if you think you can do better you should start a bank yourself and if you get rich you’ll have earned every penny of it.

  28. 28
    Jon Says:

    There are some very simple things to keep in mind here. Merchants need to follow the contracts they agreed to (which includes no minimums and maximums; no ID required; no additional fees or surcharges, etc…). It’s as simple as that. And for businesses, you’d think that cash is their lowest cost payment method. Keep in mind that most business checking accounts charge for each credit and debit made to the account, as well as a charge for each check that you deposit to the account. And, in almost all cases, merchants pay a fee to deposit cash after a certain amount into their business checking/savings accounts (usually as a fee per every hundred or so dollars — these fees vary by bank). For some businesses (like mine), it may actually end up being more expensive to take cash and checks (especially with forged/fraudulent checks and counterfeit notes — yes, they exist for EVERY denomination in circulation). And you think merchants like depositing coins? We don’t (there are more fees for that kind of stuff, depending on bank).

  29. 29
    Benjamin Says:

    You will end up driving the costs of goods at those stores up when you report them for minimum fees. They will just raise the cost of all food at that restaurant by $0.29, even for cash purchasers that they don’t have to pay for.

    Speaking of fraud, I want the merchant to check my ID when the card is used. I even write on the signature line “Check ID”. A thief could steal my credit cards and probably max them out if the merchant doesn’t check IDs. That is dangerous. I know I am not liable for fraud on my credit card, but it is still a hassle to have your credit cards stolen and fraudulent purchases made on them.

    Merchants usually leave the coins in the drawer. They get paid out in change anyway. The problem is running out of change. Rolls of coins need to be bought from the bank. If change gets to be way too much in the drawer, I always rolled it and put it in the safe until needed. I never had an over abundance of change.

    There is no pleasing these pay-by-debit-card-all-the-time people. I worked in a cash only shop and we had a guy yell at one of our employees until she cried because we didn’t take debit cards. There was even an ATM machine ten feet away.

  30. 30
    heather Says:

    I used to work at the bank and banks charge a cash deposit fee and it’s not flat. It’s a sliding scale. So no matter what monetary item is used to pay businesses get hit with fees on every dollar plus the payroll hours to count that cash and take it to the bank.

  31. 31
    heather Says:

    I used to work at the bank and banks charge a cash deposit fee and it’s not flat. It’s a sliding scale. So no matter what monetary item is used to pay businesses get hit with fees on every dollar plus the payroll hours to count that cash and take it to the bank.

    Credit cards can have a $10 minimum
    http://blog.visa.com/2010/09/0.....-minimums/

  32. 32
    Hitesmites Says:

    Just reported several gas stations in my area that are charging more to customers who pay for gasoline with a credit card. Isn’t the price of gas high enough? And so many people are relying on credit cards these days……..

  33. 33
    Kathleen Says:

    As a merchant, I don’t lose money when small purchases are paid with either a debit or credit card. It is the consumer who is paying the fees through higher prices to cover expenses like all other expenses. The cost of doing business is built into the pricing. Like many others, I vote with my feet and don’t shop where they set a minimum. Occasionally I run short of cash after a day of shopping and must use my card.

  34. 34
    Chris Davis Says:

    How do I report a processing company? They allow chargebacks up to 20percent domestic?? is that legal? I cant call them to complain who do i call do stop this

  35. 35
    jantra Says:

    This place charges a MINIMM of $20 SURCHARGE for use of VISA and/or Mastercard AND states the CHARGE is REQUIRED by VISA and MASTERCARD and it is ILLEGAL for the SCHOOL NOT TO CHARGE THE STUDENT THE MASTERCARD SURCHARGE FEE.

  36. 36
    Tamika Wise Says:

    I was charged a fee for using my debit card at a local liquor store. After reporting them twice, I used my card without having to pay a fee. However, a sign indicating a minimum $5 charge to use credit/debit card was posted.

  37. 37
    Tamika Wise Says:

    Here’s the link to the Visa website for online complaints. I’ve filed my complaints through this website and have seen results: https://usa.visa.com/checkoutfees/contact.jsp

  38. 38
    Joe Says:

    Merchant here;

    If you do business with me you will find that I (like many other merchants out there) do not charge a surcharge, or have a “minimum” requirement. Instead, you’ll find that you can come in, buy a product, and leave without any hassle. I genuinely don’t care if the item is only a $1.25 soda. Here’s why…

    I have done the business management part on my end to make sure that my products are marked not only competitively, but also high enough to cover my annual expenses to VISA and MC. I don’t accept Discover. There’s a reason. Their merchant costs are ridiculous.
    Instead of charging the fee to you on each transaction, my products are simply priced accordingly. I’m still passing this cost on to my customers, but I am not doing it in such a way that they will find offensive, or inconvenient. My customers are usually happy, and I don’t catch any crap for imposing a minimum. Everyone wins.

    Now, that isn’t to say that MC and VISA are blameless here. Their rates have gone up throughout the years, and the costs of doing business are absolutely insane. I can see from the merchant perspective their desire to recover these costs, but the simple truth is, they are going about it all wrong. In business, as in life, perception is reality. If you think I am ripping you off, you have already made up your mind. If you see my prices are a little bit higher, but I don’t have a minimum, you’ll be glad you dont have to spend $5.00 to use a card, but you’ll still pay almost $2.00 for a soda.

  39. 39
    garrett Says:

    i visited the 3901 Hempstead Tpke. Bethpage, NY 11714 pathmark store to take advantage of the gift card cat deal too tonight at around 7:00pm. i bought $200 in gas cards. They required id and said it is for anything over $75, but also then took a full imprint of my credit card and wrote my driver # down. Not only was the front end guy rude and told me if i dont like he can deny my sale as easy as that, he then left my full credit card info on the customer service desk when he was joking around with a girl cashier. I learned to start recording these conversations on my Ipod and will start posting them to show how great the service is in store.i encourage others to start recording they conversation there as well since i will soon start a website for them all and provide the email address.

  40. 40
    Bill T Says:

    Joe said it best – Many business like to take advantage of the convenience credit cards offer but don’t want to adhere to the regulations set by the credit card companies which are designed to protect the consumer. If you display a MasterCard or Visa logo at your door I shouldn’t be surprised by an additional checkout fee or by your clerk denying my sale because I didn’t meet your arbitrary minimum purchase amount. That’s essentially bait and switch. If you want to make up your own rules which contradict federal law it’s probably time to switch to cash only. Most people probably wouldn’t care if they knew ahead of time that the business was cash only.

    There is a business here that I have reported and I’m waiting to see the results. Teasers currently has a policy of requiring a $20 minimum for credit card transactions. This policy violates their merchant agreement with both MasterCard and Visa. You can help stop practices like this which are unfair to consumers. Simply report Teasers, or any other business with similar policies, directly to MasterCard and Visa on their merchant violations website.

    MasterCard – http://www.mastercard.us/suppo.....tions.html
    Visa – https://usa.visa.com/checkoutfees/contact.jsp

    Teasers 218 Duval St Key West, FL 33040

  41. 41
    Debbie B. Says:

    I do not have a problem in someone asking for photo ID when I make a purchase, but I just left a business who not only asked for it but wrote my drivers license number on her copy of the receipt. This made me uncomfortable. Can they legally do that?

  42. 42
    Mtn Girl Says:

    I was charged an additional 2% for using my card at a restaurant in my town recently. I’m sure that reporting works, because another business in town lost their merchant account for doing the same thing.

  43. 43
    cindi Says:

    I never had the surcharge issue come up but anytime I was told that I had to purchase a certain amount I simply said “are you aware that violates your merchant agreement with the credit card company?”, almost always (about 95% of the time) their response was “Oops, our bad; you can charge it, please don’t report us!” Most of the remainder consisted of asking what I meant and when I explained that in order to accept Visa (or whatever card it was) they had to sign a contract agreeing not to do certain things and one of those was not requiring a minimum charge and that Visa actually had a website specifically for reporting vendors for violating their merchant agreement (contract), most of those people also said “Oops, our bad; you can charge it”, please don’t report us!” About 1 percent said “I don’t have any control over that; I am just doing what my boss told me to do” so I had to make a minimum purchase.

    But the current Visa reporting website does say that they can require a minimum purchase as long as it’s under 10.00 and can add a surcharge as of January 27, 2013 as long as it is less than a certain percent (4%, I think), is not on debit card or gift card transactions, is disclosed upon entry or at the point of sale, or on the receipt; which is basically crap since by the time you have the receipt it’s already been charged and you have no recourse, such as going to a place that doesn’t do that instead, and it is not in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massechusetts, Texas, or Utah (on purchases $10,000 or smaller) because all of these states prohibit surhcarges for using credit cards (or using credit cards for purchases under a certain amount), & outside of the US. There is no longer a restriction on asking for an ID; but I don’t think they are allowed to copy your ID number, though.

  44. 44
    Ramaguru Prasad Jakkala Says:

    There is a different kind of fraud merchants in India indulge in. They call potential customers (credit card users) on phone and pose as calling from the card issuing bank and ask customers to sign up for a merchant sale and the charges will be waived from the bank side as they say they value the customer and give it out as a gift. There is a company by name Madondeals.com in India which is indulging in such practice. Please be aware.

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