Members – and millions of other Australian consumers – should be aware of a move by Woolworths to restrict the use of Visa Debit cards across their retail empire later this month. From 15 April, Woolworths’ outlets (which include Big W, Woolworths Supermarkets, Safeway, BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Dick Smith and Tandy) will start banning customers from selecting the ‘credit’ option when using a Visa Debit card to pay for their purchases.
Millions of Australians use Visa Debit cards to help minimise transaction fees and all Savings & Loans members currently receive unlimited free ‘credit’ purchases using their Visa Debit card. By only allowing Visa Debit card users to select ‘savings’ or ‘cheque’, Woolworths will be forcing many of its customers to pay extra to buy their groceries.
Without getting too technical, Woolworths will only process Visa Debit purchases through the EFTPOS network, of which it is a part owner. The move not only limits consumers’ choice, but also works out better financially for Woolworths.
Woolworths – one of Australia’s biggest companies – is using its market dominance to tell you how to pay for your shopping.
If you haven’t used one before, a Visa Debit card gives you all the convenience of a traditional credit card, but using your own money. This means that you can use your card to buy things online, over the phone and to buy your groceries (at least, anywhere that isn’t owned by Woolworths after 14 April). It’s a great way of giving people access to their money however they want it, without the risk of going into debt.
The ban only extends to Visa Debit cards, not credit cards. Woolworths has previously launched its own credit card, which will also not be affected by the ban.
There isn’t much we can do to change Woolworths’ decision, but there are a few ways to avoid any fees for using the ‘savings’ or ‘cheque’ option with your Visa Debit card:
• Withdraw money from a rediATM before going shopping – there are over 3,200 rediATMs around Australia
• Think ahead – if you have to use ‘savings’ or ‘cheque’, take some cash out so you don’t have to perform another transaction
• Consider taking out a Visa Credit card – this isn’t the right option for everyone but interest free periods are available and you can ‘pre-load’ the card with your own money if you’re worried about credit cards
We’re working with our industry group to help ensure that Australia’s payment system remains fair and our members can continue using their money however they want to.