The court turned away an appeal from retailers that had agreed to the settlement, leaving in place a US federal appeals court decision from last year which killed off the deal.
The initial settlement was reached in 2012, with Visa and Mastercard agreeing to pay up $7.25 billion to retailers over claims that the card schemes had improperly fixed credit and debit card swipe fees.
However, the deal was soon rejected by a host of top retailers and trade groups, who counter-sued the card schemes in search of heftier fines and deeper reforms. Nearly 8000 merchants opted out, bringing the settlement down to $5.7 billion.
In a victory for those merchants, in 2016 the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York unanimously struck down the settlement, with Judge Pierre Leval saying: “This is not a settlement; it is a confiscation.”
The court ruled that a provision in the settlement stopping merchants from suing over fees was unfair and also criticised lawyers that represented the retailers for not doing enough to protect their interests.
A group of smaller retailers tried to get the settlement revived in a move supported by Visa and Mastercard but America’s top court has now rejected this without commenting on its decision.