The 2010 Olympics Discriminate Against Non-Visa Card Holders

Visa but not MasterCardFor the first time in my life, I have actually taken somewhat of an interest in the Olympics. I installed the 2010 Olympics App on my iPhone and tracked the men’s ice hockey event. I never actually watched an entire game, mind you, but I used the app to keep track of Canada’s status. That was pretty much the extent of my patriotism, I must admit. When it comes to Olympic branded merchandise, I still could never bring myself to spend good, hard-earned money on what I consider very overpriced souveniers. For those who are not like me, however, purchasing Olympic merchandise can be difficult, if not impossible.

We don’t take MasterCard!

My sister, who herself takes little interest in the Olympics, wanted to buy her husband an official Olympic toque from the website for his birthday, since he is an avid fan. There was only one problem. They wouldn’t accept her MasterCard. In fact, the website does not accept any form of payment other than Visa.

When my sister told me this over the phone, I couldn’t believe it. So I went to the website myself and sure enough, there was a Visa logo with the caption “Visa Payment Only” and the following message:

In recognition of Visa’s long-standing support of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we proudly accept only Visa cards on

I was astonished. What was the Olympic committee thinking? “Oh well, the world’s already blown $2.5 billion on us, so let’s try not to take any more of their money by limiting our sales of merchandise to Visa card holders only”? Isn’t that discrimination? There must be a law about that someplace.

I hate fees

Personally, I refuse to get a Visa because I am unaware of any Visa card that does not charge monthly or yearly fees. I love my MasterCard, the balance of which I pay off every month. I pay no fees, no interest, and they even give me free groceries. But apparently, the Olympic powers that be have something against my kind, because they won’t let us buy their merchandise online unless we switch our credit card allegiances.
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Proud to be stupid

My favourite part is the phrase stating, “We proudly accept only Visa.” Apparently, they think that by adding the word “proudly” they can justify the stupidity of the “only”. My interpretation of their “proud” statement: “We’re too lazy to implement more than one form of online payment system, so if you don’t have a Visa you’re out of luck.” I wonder if PayPal turned them down…

Visa is better!

I’d love to see the business model that supports the turning away of paying customers on the basis of not having a Visa card. Someone please explain this insanity to me. Am I missing something? The only company benefitting from this is Visa. No one else. I wonder what kind of dough they had to cough up to be the exclusive payment method of the Olympics. It must have been more than the estimated total merchandise sales from all the American Express, MasterCard and other credit card holders of the world combined.

Oh well. Now that the Olympics are over, we can all get back to using our inferior credit cards again.



  1. I just found out that you can order Olympic clothing directly from the Hudson’s Bay Company Website and you can ACTUALLY pay with all major credit cards and especially the HBC credit cards and points cards.

  2. The reason behind this is because VISA sponsored the olympics. They’ve been very strict this year about not condoning any brand that isn’t a sponsor.

    As you know, Sharon works at TD. They have a number of VISA cards that don’t have a monthly fee, including one that is a rewards card – you get a *small* percentage of your yearly purchases back in cash.

    We just signed up for one that costs $100/year, but we get the top-of-the-line CAA coverage, PLUS we get 1% of our spending back in cash (which will easily give us the $100 back, so we get CAA for free!)

  3. VISA sponsoring the Olympics does not excuse the fact that a non-VISA card holder cannot purchase Olympics merchandise. That’s called discrimination. Does VISA own the Olympics? No they just negotiated a great deal to hurt the non VISA card holders and force the multi-brand credit card owners to use their VISA over their other cards.

    Free groceries is good enough for me 🙂

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