MasterCard discriminates European cardholders

A couple of days ago, I booked a journey to Kuala Lumpur and Bali for my wife and me. When it came to paying the travel agent advised me that there would be a surcharge of 0.3% imposed by the tour operator when you pay with credit card — independent of which brand your credit card is.

I was pretty outraged because of the surcharge, because until then I was pretty sure that this kind of charges were expressly forbidden by card acquirers (an “acquirer” is the party which acquires the transacations of the merchant).

Therefore I visited MasterCard’s website in order to investigate their acceptance procedures. I found something very interesting in the MasterCard rules dated 2009-11-06.

In article 5.9.2. it says about “Charges to cardholders:”

A Merchant must not directly or indirectly require any Cardholder to pay a surcharge or any part of any Merchant discount or any contemporaneous finance charge in connection with a Transaction.


When I continued to read I found a section “10 Europe Region Rules” where it said the following in “10A.3 Charges to Cardholders:”

Rule 5.9.2 does not apply in the European Economic Area.

So, why is this? Why does MasterCard reserve the right to discriminate their European cardholders compared to their US cardholders? “What have we done to deserve this?”

To Meier’s Weltreisen, the tour operator: Instead of adding surcharges to customers who pay using a credit card (and that will be the absolute majority of all customers), you should recalculate your prices and refrain from playing such dirty tricks.

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