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Want 10 bucks? Then buy your groceries somewhere other than Walmart, Visa tells Manitobans

Visa, which is fighting Walmart over fees, is now offering cardholders in Manitoba a $10 grocery bill rebate if they shop elsewhere.

Visa’s new promotion offers the $10 rebate on cardholders’ next bill if they make a $50 grocery purchase at a store other than Walmart. Although the campaign doesn’t name Walmart, it takes direct aim at the retailer, since Walmart stopped accepting Visa at any of its grocery stores last month.

Cardholders must register their number before Nov. 15 at visa.ca/Manitoba and they’ll automatically receive the credit within 15 days of purchasing groceries.

Asked if this particular promotion was aimed at encouraging them to buy their groceries from someone other than Walmart, Visa spokesperson Carla Hindman said, “We hope this eases the inconvenience for Visa cardholders in Manitoba who cannot use their card everywhere they may want to.”

She said Visa ran a similar ad in Thunder Bay after Walmart banned its cards in its stores in the northwestern Ontario city. The offer was a $25 credit for every grocery purchase of $75 or more.

Alex Roberton, a spokesman for Walmart Canada, said “We don’t comment on how other organizations want to promote their brand.”

Ongoing battle

The war between the two giants erupted in June, when Walmart said it would soon stop accepting Visa cards at any of its stores because the fees Visa charges to process transactions are too high.

They’re called “interchange” fees, and typically such fees in other developed countries are less than 0.5 per cent per transaction. In Canada, for some cards, they can be almost two per cent. In 2014, Visa agreed to cap its average interchange fee at 1.5 per cent, but some cards are still above that threshold.

Neither Visa nor Walmart would confirm what Visa charges Walmart in Canada, but the retailer says it pays more than $100 million in fees to Visa annually. 

The ban started in Thunder Bay in July, and spread to Manitoba last month. Eventually, Walmart says it may stop accepting Visa cards at any of its Canadian stores.