Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interchange Fees

In the payment card industry interchange is the fee that an acquiring bank pays to a card issuing bank when a card (issued by the card issuing bank) is used to pay for a product or a service, provided by a merchant who has a merchant account with the acquiring bank. The issuing bank pays the acquiring bank the transaction amount minus the interchange fee. The acquirer then pays the merchant the transaction amount minus both the interchange fee and its own payment processing cost.

Interchange rates are published annually by both Credit Card Networks - Visa's and MasterCard's and are available for everyone to see. They represent the largest chunk of the total transaction processing costs that merchants pay for accepting payment cards. Various estimates put their share at anywhere between 70% - 90%. Interchange rates are typically comprised of a percentage of the transaction amount (for example 1.94%) plus a fixed fee (for example $0.10). Various factors come into play when interchange fees are established. Generally, payments taken in a card-not-present environment are processed at a higher interchange than payments taken in a card-present environment. That is the reason why eCommerce merchant account and MOTO merchant account users pay higher processing fees than, say, retail merchant account users.

Since interchange rates are set by Visa and MasterCard, merchants have no leverage over them. It is, however, important to know what they are, so that, when negotiating with prospective merchant account providers, you will know exactly what you are being offered. There are several merchant processing pricing structures and this article will not go over all of them but probably the best model is the pass-through one. It works by simply adding your merchant services provider's processing cost to interchange, ensuring that every single transaction is processed at the same rate. You will only have to make sure that these processing costs are not inflated and a simple referral to the interchange chart will help you do just that.

See how we have structured our own interchange pricing model.

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