The highest court in America backed AmEx's policy of preventing retailers from offering customers incentives to pay with cheaper cards. AmEx has faced a decade of litigation alleging that its higher fees have "anticompetitive effects" on merchants. The ruling implies that merchants may have a difficult time trying to commoditize the interchange fees associated with credit card payments.
An AmEx loss would have given merchants significant leverage against the company because they could have asked consumers to pay with other lower-fee cards in exchange for discounts or other incentives. Shoppers now won’t receive such offers. The ruling is also a setback for the merchants’ broader ambitions to take on credit card swipe-fees, also known as interchange fees. While debit card swipe fees were capped by legislation as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the AmEx case was viewed by merchants as a way of lowering the interchange fees they incur from credit cards.