What is Interchange?
Interchange is a term used in the payment card industry to describe a fee paid between banks for the acceptance of card based transactions. Usually it is a fee that a merchant’s bank (the “acquiring bank”) pays a customer’s bank (the “issuing bank”).
In a credit card or debit card transaction, the card-issuing bank in a payment transaction deducts the interchange fee from the amount it pays the acquiring bank that handles a credit or debit card transaction for a merchant. The acquiring bank then pays the merchant the amount of the transaction minus both the interchange fee and an additional, usually smaller fee for the acquiring bank or ISO, which is often referred to as a discount rate, an add-on rate, or passthru.
For cash withdrawal transactions at ATMs, however, the fees are paid by the card-issuing bank to the acquiring bank (for the maintenance of the machine).
These fees are set by the credit card networks, and are the largest component of the various fees that most merchants pay for the privilege of accepting credit cards. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are each known as card associations. And each card association has their own rate sheets known as Interchange Reimbursement Fees. These fees make up the majority of what you pay to your processor and they vary greatly depending on the card type accepted.
Interchange Plus pricing means that the acquirer charges you a variable merchant service charge (or MSC) consisting of the cost price plus a fixed markup. Interchange Plus Pricing is exclusively how we quote at Host Merchant Services. Interchange Plus, also known as Cost Plus, pricing gives the customer a fixed rate over published Interchange Fees. This pricing format is normally quoted as a discount rate (percentage fee) along with a per item or authorization fee. The great thing about Interchange Plus pricing is that you always know exactly what you are paying to your processor to services your account. Think of Interchange, and all the associated fees, as an unavoidable cost. No matter who you process with, you have to pay these fees. They may be labeled differently, or wrapped up in a confusing pricing tier, but one way or the other, you are paying Interchange fees. By understanding the markup you pay over Interchange, you know exactly what you pay to your processor and exactly what is going to the card associations. That allows you to make a decision on whether or not the markup seems reasonable for the service you get and choose your processing partner accordingly.
Here’s a small graphic explaining the basics of how Interchange Plus works: