If you have a Sam's Club or Walmart credit card (as opposed to pre-paid money card), you'll see a different logo next time you're issued a new plastic rectangle — though whether you'll see changes in your account's financial specifics remains to be seen.
However, stockholders in Walmart or various financial companies have good reason to take interest in the news that, starting this summer, Walmart credit cards will be branded with the MasterCard logo, rather than Discover.
The Wall Street Journal (followed by other business-news sites) announced the changes Friday morning:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. co-branded credit cards will soon carry MasterCard Inc.'s logo under a deal the retailer struck with General Electric Co.'s banking arm to switch from Discover Financial Services.
As of early Friday afternoon, Walmart stock rose slightly in value, whereas the stock price of every other company involved in the deal actually dropped, which might be bad news for investors.
But what about consumers — if you have a Walmart or Sam's Club card, what if any changes will you see after switching to MasterCard?
That remains uncertain, although it is theoretically possible you'll see a slight improvement (drop) in store prices due to another recent news story involving Walmart and credit cards: at the end of March, Walmart filed a lawsuit in Arkansas (where the company is headquartered) against the VISA company, claiming that the “swipe fees” it charges merchants are too high.
In court documents, Walmart argued that “The anticompetitive conduct of Visa and the banks forced Wal-Mart to raise retail prices paid by its customers and/or reduce retail services provided to its customers as a means of offsetting some of the artificially inflated interchange fees.”
Pay it off
Regardless of what company logo is on your credit card or what stores you patronize as a shopper, it's important to pay off your credit card bill in full every month, lest you pay interest rates high enough to wipe out any presumptive savings from shopping at a cheaper store.
If you can't afford to do this, and have no choice but to carry a balance on the card from month to month, then at least avoid putting further charges on the card until you get it paid off, because you will be charged high interest on every additional purchase you make.
Despite those swipe fees Walmart complained about in court, the fees credit card companies collect from merchants whenever customers use their cards, the bulk of credit card company profits come from interest payments. Don't let their extra profits empty your pocket.