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Auction Houses Fine-Tune Credit Card Payment Policies

Effective last month, Sotheby's said it is no longer accepting credit cards for most auction purchases. Instead, representatives of the auction house said, acceptable forms of payment include cash, check, money order or wire transfer.

NEW YORK—Effective last month, Sotheby’s said it is no longer accepting credit cards for most auction purchases. Instead, representatives of the auction house said, acceptable forms of payment include cash, check, money order or wire transfer. However, credit cards will continue to be accepted for such items as catalogues and subscriptions.

The auction house has also discontinued a co-branded MasterCard credit card launched less than two years ago in partnership with GE Money, a unit of the General Electric Company (ANL, 5/1/07). The main page of Sotheby’s Web site still advertises the card, listing numerous benefits and rewards, including free museum admission and VIP privileges and services. Auction house spokesperson Diana Phillips said cardholders can redeem rewards points and will have online access to the list of rewards through the Sotheby’s Web site until the end of March, after which the house plans to remove the information from its site.

Last fall, Christie’s began accepting credit cards for purchases up to a general limit of about $100,000. Said spokesperson Toby Usnik, “The change was simply intended as a service to our clients. There are limits by geography, and limits are dependent on the card issuer and client.”

Asked about Phillips, de Pury & Company’s payment policy, spokesperson Ariel Childs said, “Traditionally we have not accepted credit cards for sale payments with the exception of the Saturday@Phillips sales, where a client can pay by Visa, MasterCard or debit card.” The Saturday@Phillips auctions feature lower-priced contemporary art, furniture and jewelry.

Swann Galleries, New York, “does not accept credit cards for purchase and never has,” according to spokesperson Rebecca Weiss.

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