The new Reserve Bank interchange regulation saw both Visa and MasterCard merchant service fees cut in half and while American Express consumers were stunned at the cost of their Amex cards. So when the new regulations were announced, both Diners and American Express were left out.
Apparently , American Express has been charging fees that are above any other credit card fees, and apparently – to compensate, they offered higher and better rewards, thinking that would make up for it.
However, the Reserve Bank saw things differently, and after leaving both American Express and Diners club credit cards out of their interchange regulation – which ultimately cut Visa and M/C fees way down, Amex decided to lower fees to try to ‘fit in’ with the competition.
The justice department has filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that AMEX is engaging in anti-competitive practices. Apparently , Visa and MasterCard settled over this practice. It seems that AMEX was not allowing merchants to offer discounts to its consumers, being that Amex is such a huge dominant corporation, as well as Visa and MasterCard, that their fees should be fair.
Amex’s swipe fees are the highest in the world.
While Visa and MasterCard fees have been stable in the last couple of years, they did change their policies to allow discounts on merchant fees by customers who use their cards in their stores. However, Amex is not changing or settling. AMEX CEO, Kenneth I. Chenault stated, “Instead of promoting competition, it now seeks to promote regulation that would ultimately limit competition.”
Industry watchers believe that Amex will soon face pressure to cut their fees if they want to stay competitive in the credit card market.
Stephen Karpin, chief of cards at Commonwealth Bank said the Amex charge was leveling off. He is confident Amex’s pricing structure would allow it to continue offering higher points and the company. “Our new relationship with American Express means existing and new Commonwealth Awards customers can now gain awards faster by earning more points on what they spend.” Mr. Karpin said.
As far as the low rate AMEX Gold credit card, it provides the benefits and low interest that consumers expect. Their low annual fees and awards are showing signs of promise.