Working Paper

Toward a theory of merchant credit card acceptance

Abstract: In this article, we construct a two-period model to investigate what market conditions would support a credit card equilibrium given two commonly observed credit card pricing conventions consumers rarely are charged higher prices for using their credit cards and if they payoff their credit card obligations every month, they enjoy interest-free short-term credit. The results of the model indicate that when the card issuer's cost of funds is not too high and the merchant's profit margin is sufficiently high, a credit card equilibrium can exist. We also and that the credit-issuer's ability to charge higher merchant discount fees depends on the number of customers gained when credit cards are accepted. Thus, credit cards exhibit characteristics of network goods.

Keywords: Credit cards; Payment systems;

Access Documents


Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 1999

Number: WP-99-16