More than 97% of eligible Visa Inc. credit and debit card issuers have accepted a settlement offer related to last year's major data security breach at Heartland Payment Systems Inc., the companies said last week.

Under the Jan. 8 settlement agreement, the Princeton, N.J., processor has agreed to pay up to $60 million to Visa issuers for breach-related expenses.

The banks should receive settlement payments by Feb. 25, according to the agreement.

Three law firms representing issuers have said the settlement could offer issuers only "pennies on the dollar" for their costs.

The high acceptance rate, however, indicates "most of what we heard was typical lawyer talk," said Adil Moussa, an analyst with Aite Group LLC.

"The two or three most important figures we need to look at is how much did the issuers really spend to counter any activity," Moussa said. "I don't believe that they have been astronomical."

Moussa expects similarly smooth settlements between Heartland and Discover Financial Services and MasterCard Inc. In December, Heartland announced settlement offers with American Express Co., for $3.6 million, and with cardholders, for $2.4 million.