Today, the Department of Justice announced that it has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging certain rules that American Express, MasterCard and Visa have in place to limit merchants from offering consumer discounts, rewards, and merchant cost information. Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Texas have also joined in the lawsuit.

The Department of Justice also announced today that it has already reached a proposed settlement agreement in this matter with Visa and MasterCard that, with court approval, would require the two companies to allow merchants to provide discounts, incentives, and information to encourage consumers to use less costly methods of payment.

The proposed settlement requires Visa and MasterCard to allow their merchants to express a preference for and/or promote the use of a particular credit card network, low-cost card within that network or other form of payment; communicate to consumers the cost incurred by the merchant when using a particular card network, type of card within a network, or other form of payment; and offer consumers a discount, rebate, or free or discounted product or service for using a particular credit card network, low-cost card within that network or other form of payment.