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Frequently Asked Questions
What does AXP think about the trial court’s decision regarding the DOJ lawsuit?

We are disappointed with the decision and have filed an appeal because we believe the decision was wrong. We believe the trial court's ruling will not provide any benefit to consumers and will, in fact, harm competition by further entrenching the two dominant networks, Visa and MasterCard.

What is the history of the claim by the Department of Justice (DOJ)?

In 2008, the DOJ began a formal civil investigation of Visa, MasterCard, AXP and Discover into whether the rules of Visa and MasterCard and the AXP and Discover non-discrimination provisions violate U.S. antitrust laws. On October 4, 2010, the DOJ filed suit against Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Visa and MasterCard negotiated their own settlement with the government. AXP decided to defend the suit.

What is the DOJ’s complaint against American Express?

The DOJ claims that American Express' non-discrimination provisions in its merchant contracts violate federal anti-trust laws.

The DOJ claims that American Express uses its market power to force merchants to accept the rules in its non-discrimination provisions. They claim the rules insulate American Express from competition at the point of sale because they prohibit merchants from steering card holders to less expensive cards.

We believe the DOJ is wrong because:

(1) On a like-for-like basis, there is essentially no difference in price and many of the premium cards of the dominant networks are actually more expensive than American Express cards

(2) The pricing schemes of the dominant networks are so complex even the most sophisticated merchants cannot determine the price they pay to accept a particular card, making it difficult to know which cards are cheaper than others

(3) While most American Express Card Members hold competing cards, the vast majority of card holders do not carry American Express cards, so steering can only occur towards the dominant networks.

Is this case about surcharging? Is the DOJ seeking fines or damages?

The DOJ lawsuit is not about surcharging, and the DOJ is not seeking fines or damages.

How does the decision impact my American Express Card account?

There are no changes to your account. You can use your Card as you normally would.