Credit Cards Implement Category Code For Firearm Sales

posted on March 5, 2023
Cash Sales

As of April 1, cash might be king again at FFLs across the country. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—a federation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with members across the globe who develop and publish standards—adopted a merchant category code (MCC) on Sept. 9, 2022, specifically for firearm and ammunition retailer use when processing a credit-card purchase. NRA-ILA explained on Sept. 13 that, “…the hope of gun control groups for this new MCC is that it would create a registry of gun owners that they have long sought and provide them with another tool to attack lawful industry when firearms are used in crime.”

According to Reuters news service, Discover card will begin using the code in April. Visa, MasterCard and American Express did not disclose when it launches in their respective financial networks, although they did confirm it was coming. “The new code will allow us to fully comply with our duty to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales,” said Priscilla Sims Brown, president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank and chief proponent for the change.

The definition and threshold of “suspicious activity” that prompts a bank to hand private information over to law enforcement remains unknown. As a result, some predict FFLs will experience a significant increase in cash payments this year.

There’s a monetary benefit for retailers if that trend were to build, one that addresses an under-reported risk in this change. MCCs are issued to retailers, and each financial institution imposes proprietary rules and restrictions on its credit card use and acceptance. Some of those codes fall into an agreement’s “high risk” category and can result in an FFL paying higher processing fees, reduced charge-back protection and more.

Those increased fees are incurred by the retailer and invisible on a sales receipt. Enthusiasts paying cash instead of using plastic effectively bolster an FFL’s bottom line when there are no Visa, Discover, MasterCard or American Express charges involved.

The financial industry subscribes universally to the ISO-published list of MCC codes. Sporting-goods retailers have traditionally been assigned 5941. It is unclear precisely how the numbers will be reassigned, particularly at big-box stores that have a gun counter next to tennis, golf, baseball and other departments.

Credit card users—even those who don’t own firearms—accustomed to accumulating rewards through their use may also be affected by this change. Purchases at stores with certain MCCs often do not qualify, or the incentives can decrease significantly.


Walther WMP
Walther WMP

Review: Walther WMP

Near the end of 2022, Walther took its handgun lineup in a fresh direction with the release of the sporting WMP pistol chambered in .22 WMR, designed for field use as a "kit gun."

Rifleman Report: Individual Liberty & Innovation

When it comes to the design, manufacture and sale of innovative firearms, the intuition and innovation of unique personalities are often the common threads that result in success.

Henry Salutes America’s Most Decorated Living Veteran

Henry Repeating Arms honors U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, our most decorated living veteran, with a limited edition rifle, which underscores the brands commitment to American heroes, past and present.

I Have This Old Gun: Jo.Lo.Ar Pistol

It was in 1919 when José de Lopez Arnaiz cleverly devised a unique single-action pistol with a moveable lever (palanca) of which enabled shooters to single-handedly chamber and cock the gun using only the index and middle fingers.

The Armed Citizen® May 27, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Preview: Camp Chef 9 Piece Professional Knife Set

In order to make the most out of harvested game, you need a set of quality food-prep tools like Camp Chef offers in its 9 Piece Professional Knife Set.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.