American Express, Credit Card Networks Sued in Antitrust Case

Visa and MasterCard Credit cards
The talks focus on rules that bar merchants from charging extra to customers who use credit cards and steering them to competing cards, and require retailers to accept every type of card banks issue. The department is leaning Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg

The U.S. Justice Department sued Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and American Express Co. in a two-year antitrust investigation over restrictions on merchants.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced he will hold a news conference today in Washington at 2 p.m. to announce developments in what the Justice Department described as an antitrust case.

American Express spokesman Michael O’Neill said his company would fight the charges. “We do not intend to settle,” he said.

Earlier, people familiar with the matter said the Justice Department was weighing a lawsuit with the expectation that Purchase, New York-based MasterCard and Visa would settle while AmEx fights it.

Visa spokesman Will Valentine and MasterCard’s Jim Issokson had no immediate comment.

The U.S. probe focused on rules that bar merchants from charging extra to customers who use credit cards and steering them to competing cards, and require retailers to accept every type of card banks issue.

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