ARTA Canada Assists Members with New Card Rules

Hotline Established to Guide Members on New Merchant Options

Toronto, 17 August 2010Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) announced today that it has established a hotline to assist members navigating the options and benefits of Canada's new credit and debit card rules which went into effect on Monday, 16 August 2010.

Key elements of the new Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada include requirements for payment card networks, card issuers and acquirers to increase transparency and disclosure to merchants and is subject to a 9-month transitional period.

The federal government announced the "voluntary" Code on 16 April 2010, following consultation, and updated it with minor revisions on 18 May 2010. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), which was established in 2001 to administer consumer provisions in federal financial institutions legislation, is mandated to administer the voluntary Code.

The new Code includes the following two transitions periods:

As of 16 August 2010

Merchants are allowed to provide discounts for different methods of payment (for example, cash, debit card and credit card), as well as different levels of discounts among different payment card networks. If merchants choose to offer these types of discounts, they must clearly display the discounts at the point of sale.

Merchants will receive a minimum of 90 days notice of any new fees or fee increases related to credit or debit card transactions. If a fee change is made in accordance with a pre-determined fee schedule included in the merchant's contract with an acquirer, notification is not required.

Merchants are allowed to cancel their contracts without penalty within 90 days of receiving notice of a new fee or a fee increase. This right to cancellation does not apply if a fee increase is made in accordance with a pre-determined schedule included in the merchant's contract, such as a schedule based on merchant sales volumes.

Merchants who accept credit card payments from a payment network are not required to accept debit card payments from the same network, and vice versa. A merchant can choose to accept only credit or debit payments from a network without having to accept both.

If payment card networks introduce new products or services, merchants are not required to accept those new products or services. Negative option acceptance is not allowed.

  • This Element of the Code of Conduct applies to new products and services that payment card network operators offer to merchants. For example, a merchant's express consent would be required for acceptance of contactless cards if the merchant had not accepted any contactless cards previously from the specific payment card network that is introducing them.
  • It does not apply to new products and services offered to consumers, such as a new credit card product.

By 17 February 2011

Payment card networks will make all interchange rates applicable to their products and any upcoming changes to these fees easily available on their web sites.

Merchant statements from their acquirers will include the following information presented in a clear and simple manner:

  • effective merchant discount rate for each type of payment card from a payment card network
  • interchange rates and any other rates that acquirers charge the merchant
  • the number and volume of transactions for each type of payment transaction
  • the total amount of fees applicable to each rate
  • details of each fee, including the payment card network to which they relate.

"This would be the right time for travel agents to review their credit and debit card processing agreements with their merchant services provider. The new rules offer up new flexibility and greater options for all who accept card payments. ARTA Canada fully supports these new rules which make the card processing landscape more transparent and competitive", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.

ARTA members needing assistance with the new rules can call ARTA Canada toll-free at 1-888-929-ARTA (2782) or e-mail with questions.

About ARTA Canada 

ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.

ARTA Canada is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations. To join ARTA Canada, complete details and online membership application and secure payment are available on the ARTA Canada web site at

      ARTA Canada  |  61 Hayden Street  |  Suite 210  |  Toronto, Ontario  |  M4Y 2P2