I am doing some finance research for payment methods in China, there is some confusion as to whether only certain types of Visa Credit Cards are accepted at businesses versus all Visas...

Is this the case? Can someone confirm this for me?

  • I cannot speak for China, but even in North America various types of plastic, all with the Visa logo, can be accepted or rejected. Debit/prepaid cards typically have smaller swipe fees when run as such, so some companies here accept only these types. In addition, Visa and MasterCard are nearly universal here, but in China the market's pretty much in the hands of one giant card issuer, and Visa/MasterCard acceptance is as spotty as Discover or Diner's Club. – KeithS Feb 6 '13 at 1:28

Generally, credit card networks (as opposed to debit/ATM cards that may or may not have Visa/MC logos) have a rule that a merchant must accept any credit card with their logo. Visa rules for merchants in the US say it explicitly:

Accept all types of valid Visa cards. Although Visa card acceptance rules may vary based on country specific requirements or local regulations, to offer the broadest possible range of payment options to cardholder customers, most merchants choose to accept all categories of Visa debit, credit, and prepaid cards.*

Unfortunately the Visa site for China is in Chinese, so I can't find similar reference there. You can complain against a merchant who you think had violated Visa rules here.

That said, its not a law, its a contract between the merchant processor and the Visa International organization, and merchants are known to break these rules here and there (most commonly - refusing to accept foreign cards, including in the US). Also, local laws may affect these contracts (for example, in the US it is legal to set minimum amount requirements when accepting credit cards).

This only affects credit card processing, and merchants that don't accept credit cards may still accept debit cards since those work in different networks, under a different set of rules. Those who accept credit cards, are also required to accept debit cards (at least if used as credit).

  • Tell that to Sam's Club or Aldi Food Stores; they accept debit cards but not credit in the name of "loss prevention" and "cost savings". – KeithS Feb 6 '13 at 1:31
  • @KeithS debit cards have nothing to do with this. Entirely different system. – littleadv Feb 6 '13 at 1:38
  • They're Visa-branded cards; however, the rules document has a footnote: "Visa debit and credit cards may have different acceptance policies if you are located in the U .S ., Australia, or Canada" which covers the idiosyncracies I've seen. I guess in China, if they want to accept Visa they have to take any Visa. – KeithS Feb 6 '13 at 1:39
  • @KeithS I think that is because ATM-like POSes are only used in these countries. In EU they have a pin&chip system for credit cards, and most of the world adheres to the more secure EU standard, not the retarded US way of doing things. – littleadv Feb 6 '13 at 1:42
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Many businesses that accept regular VISA credit cards will not accept VISA purchase cards intended for corporate/gov purchasing departments and able to furnish a more detailed audit trail (purchase order #, lot #, etc.) than a regular credit card. Other merchants take ONLY VISA purchase cards.

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