Walmart and Visa declare truce in half-year battle over credit card fees

Corporate behemoths Walmart Canada and Visa have declared a truce in their dispute over merchant fees, allowing Walmart customers in Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ont., to resume using the credit card beginning Friday.

Both companies said they came to an agreement but did not provide details, calling the arrangement confidential.

Walmart began refusing Visa credit cards at its three stores in Thunder Bay in mid-July.

It said it pays more than $100 million in fees every year for customers to use various brands of credit cards, and that the fees charged by Visa were excessive.

That set off a widely watched battle within the retail sector that intensified in October, when Walmart expanded its policy of rejecting Visas to its 16 stores in Manitoba.

The retail giant had said it was planning to expand its phase-out of Visa to all of its 400 stores in Canada.

The months-long dispute became so heated that at one point Visa offered its cardholders in Manitoba a reward for buying their groceries somewhere other than Walmart.

It launched an advertising campaign in November offering Manitoba Visa cardholders a $10 credit if they spent $50 or more at grocery stores.

The campaign didn't explicitly mention Walmart or the fee dispute, but a Visa spokeswoman said at the time that the company was hoping to ease any inconvenience for Visa cardholders who can't use their cards everywhere that they want to.

Visa ran a similar ad in Thunder Bay, promising cardholders there with a $25 credit for every grocery purchase of $75 or more.

Visa previously said it had offered Walmart one of the lowest rates for any merchant in the country, and that if it gave in to the retailer's demands then other merchants would want a reduction in their fees, as well.