AP NEWS

Smith’s won’t take Visa credit cards as of April 3

March 21, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Smith’s Food and Drug stores will stop accepting Visa credit cards as a form of payment beginning April 3.

Smith’s, a Kroger-owned subsidiary, said that excessive interchange and network fees that Visa and its issuing banks charge retailers drive up food prices for all customers.

“We know that this may be an inconvenience for customers so we want to make sure that our customers are not caught off guard when April 3 comes around,” said Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s Division media relations representative. “We are communicating to our customers in different ways so that it can be an easy transition.”

The decision affects 142 supermarkets and 108 fuel center locations across seven states. Included are Smith’s stores in Bullhead City and Fort Mohave.

According to a prepared statement, Smith’s stores will continue to accept all other forms of payment, including major credit cards such as MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. They’ll also accept cash and checks, electronic benefit transfer cards from SNAP and WIC programs.

“Visa credit cards have significantly higher fees which were exceeding our grocery store margins,” said Martindale. “We have a commitment to our customers to produce quality products at low prices so we had to move away from Visa credit cards in order to do that.”

Even though Smith’s will stop accepting Visa credit cards, according to the prepared statement stores still will accept Visa debit cards, both with and without PIN and health savings account cards.

“Visa has been misusing its position and charging retailers excessive fees for a long time. They conceal from customers what Visa and its banks charge retailers to accept Visa credit cards,” said Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, through a prepared statement. “At Smith’s, Visa’s credit card fees are higher than any other credit card that we accept. Visa’s excessive fees and unfairness cannot continue to go unchecked. That’s why, starting April 3, Smith’s will accept all forms of payment except Visa credit cards.”

The statement said that Smith’s is the second chain under the Kroger banner to decline acceptance of Visa credit cards. It follows Foods Co. Supermarkets in California, which stopped accepting Visa credit cards last August. The statement added that no other chain under the Kroger umbrella is affected by this announcement.

Kroger said in the statement that it is continuing to explore options to reduce the cost of accepting credit cards in order to keep prices low for customers.