Untying the Tied Good

The NFL’s Washington Redskins have announced they will now accept any Mastercard to pay for tickets to their games, as Eric McErlain quotes from the Washington Post (registration required) at Off-Wing Opinion.

An official with the credit card company said it had asked the Redskins to drop the requirement [that they use only a Redskin affinity Mastercard] and to allow Redskins fans to use any MasterCard when they buy their seats, and that the team had agreed. MasterCard generally does not allow merchants to accept only one type of its co-branded or affinity cards over others, the official said.

Eric offers an alternative explanation for the change:

Looks like the public pressure was effective, and perhaps MasterCard realized that many of their current customers might choose to pay by cash or check, rather than obtaining yet another MasterCard — thereby taking some cash out of their pockets.

I expect both explanations had something to do with the change, but I wonder which is strongest. My guess is that Mastercard leaned on them; it sure seems that way in the Washington Post article:

Some officials in the credit card industry had noted that the Redskins’ requirement that fans use only the Redskins Extra Points Card was highly unusual. Visa International, in addition to MasterCard, does not allow merchants to restrict their acceptance of one type of card over another.

So much for my careful attempts to explain their behaviour using the economic theory of tie-ins.

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Author: John Palmer

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