SAN FRANCISCO — The sharply increasing cost of gasoline hasstrained the card payment system and Visa USA has taken steps totry to limit its impact.

The number 1 card brand announced that beginning on July 18, itwill cap the interchange charged on gasoline purchases with itsdebit cards to $0.95 per transaction. The previous rate frequentlycharged could be as high as 2% of the total purchase price, afigure which rose as the price rose and which gasoline stationoperators complained effectively eliminated their profitmargin.

The card brand also announced it was implementing a number oftechnical changes which would speed the pace of transactions beingposted to cardholder accounts. Currently, charges at gas stationsgenerate holds on accounts and sometimes trigger spendingauthorization limits.

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