Mastercard doesn’t want your money, vapers!

Ordering vapor products online with a Mastercard is about to get difficult


Thanks to the FDA, ordering a new mod or your favorite e-juice with a Mastercard is about to become a real pain. And vaping vendors will suffer because of it.

Beginning on Jan. 15, the credit card giant will institute several conditions for credit card processors and their customers that will make it harder for vape retailers to turn a profit when accepting payment with Mastercard.

The changes were apparently made because of the FDA’s deeming regulations, which place vape gear and e-liquid squarely in the tobacco products category. Tobacco products sold online or by phone fall into a high-risk category covered by Mastercard’s Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation (BRAM) compliance program.

The processing companies have notified their vape clients that they must be in compliance with Mastercard’s rules before January 15. The new requirements for non-face-to-face sales (online and telephone orders) include:

  • Perform age verifications on all customers
  • Meet all new rules for labeling, marketing, advertising, promotion and manufacturing
  • Ensure that all federal and state requirements are followed (verified by a letter from an attorney)
  • Register with Mastercard through their credit card processor by Jan. 15 ($500 cost)
  • Display a nicotine health warning on their website
  • Billing terms must be disclosed on the website
  • Must require an adult signature at delivery

Adult signature required


While most of these new requirements may seem like common sense, they will cost money, which means either increased prices to customers or reduced profits for the seller. For example, hiring an attorney to verify that all rules and procedures are being followed could be a large expense for a very small business. And while a $500 fee from Mastercard may not seem excessive, it’s likely that the other three big credit cards will follow Mastercard’s lead and institute similar policies, which will have similar costs.

For many vendors, adult signature will become standard operating procedure.

The worst rule is the requirement for an adult signature to receive a shipment. Not only is it inconvenient (how many people are at home when mail is delivered?), it’s also expensive, adding about $7 to the cost of each shipment. And the U.S. Postal Service’s adult signature protocol requires the signature of someone 21 or older, which excludes legal vapers between ages 18 and 20 from making online purchases.

Also, most online vaping retailers don’t have the ability to have separate shipping policies for each different payment method. For many vendors, adult signature will become standard operating procedure. And that’s the kind of pointless regulation that kills small businesses.

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • Robert Fairrington

    well happy fucking Friday! I guess this should be of no surprise really, it’s the same for wine and cigars but still, this sucks. I read (here maybe) that once Mastercard does something like this, the other credit card companies will soon follow?

  • Bry

    I have heard this is all a hoax. Stemming from the same website but never from MC directly. Vapewild compliance dept has confirmed this is an elaborate hoax.

    • Jim McDonald

      Yeah? Can you ask the person who says it’s a hoax to contact me? I’d like to hear the explanation.

      • Bry

        In the FB group for a vapewild the MC story made the rounds and everyone was freaking out and the mods said the compliance Dept looked into it and they made an announcement saying it wasn’t real. I myself am not sure bc many other companies have also announced the MC changes but VW keeps insisting not real and they have no plans to change their MC policy.

        • Jim McDonald

          The information comes directly from credit card processors who’ve notified vape shops they contract with. Any vendor is free to ignore the advice, but they should be ready with a backup plan for when their processor drops their account.

  • Tha sloth

    Why I don’t use MasterCard they cost too much period.

  • Curt Fish

    It was actually one specific card merchant that tried to push this, not Master Card itself. Go to Lightning Vapes web site. He spells it out what happened.

    • Jim McDonald

      I don’t see anything on their site about Mastercard (send a link if you can find it). If you’re saying only one credit card processor has these requirements, that’s not correct.

      • Curt Fish

        You’re right. It was actually in an email I received from them since I’m on their mailing list. Email? Web site? I just know I read it somewhere. My bad. Either way it’s not happening.

  • Gary Balkam

    Considering, you have to be 18 years of age to enter into a legally binding contract, (such as to pay your mastercard bill), purchasing by credit card should be verification enough, either way, a minor requires a parent to co-sign to make the contract valid, that puts the ball in the parents court, and they should be monitoring minors credit card purchases anyway..
    Hmm maybe I can get a mastercard for my cat? With me as a co-user. If they want to sue the cat, be my guest. lol

    • Jim McDonald

      Actually, many minors do have credit cards, and it is absolutely the responsibility of the seller to verify the age of the buyer. Possession of a credit card doesn’t prove age.