Visa and Mastercard lawsuit: Businesses urged to claim their share in $5.5B settlement

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 31: Mastercard and Visa logos are pictured on credit cards in New York, Wednesday, August 31, 2005. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Businesses who may be entitled to a payout in a $5.5 billion antitrust settlement with Visa and Mastercard have until the end of the month to file a claim and receive part of the settlement.

The settlement, among the largest in U.S. antitrust history, stems from a 2005 lawsuit that alleged merchants paid excessive fees to accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards, and that Visa and Mastercard and their member banks acted in violation of antitrust laws.

Any businesses that accepted Visa and/or Mastercard credit or debit cards in the U.S. between January 1, 2004 and January 25, 2019 may be eligible to receive part of the settlement. 

Eligible owners whose businesses have since closed or went bankrupt can also submit a claim.

Mitch Goldstone, CEO and owner of the film scanning business, and lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said it has been difficult to get the news out to small businesses so they can file a claim in the settlement.

RELATED: Visa, Mastercard agree to settlement over swipe fees with merchants

"Most eligible merchants still haven’t filed their claims, despite my efforts — such as helping design a user-friendly claim form with a simple QR barcode," he wrote in an email. "It’s frustrating, considering it only takes a minute to file."

The deadline to file a claim is Friday, May 31, 2024. Claims can be submitted on the claims portal and by mail if a company received a paper claim form.

Only businesses that submit a claim by the deadline will get money from the settlement. The amount of the payout for each business will be calculated after all claims are filed and validated.

Swipe fees are paid to Visa, Mastercard and other credit card companies in exchange for enabling transactions. Merchants ultimately pass on those fees to consumers who use credit or debit cards. The fees are calculated as a fixed fee plus a percentage of the sales total, typically about 1% to 3%.

Increasingly, small businesses have begun posting signs near the register warning customers that they will pay more for the same item if they do not use cash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.