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Interchange Rates

Visa uses interchange reimbursement fees as transfer fees between financial institutions to balance and grow the payment system for the benefit of all participants. Merchants do not pay interchange reimbursement fees; merchants pay “merchant discount” to their financial institution. This is an important distinction, because merchants buy a variety of processing services from financial institutions; all of these services may be included in their merchant discount rate, which is typically a percentage rate per transaction.

If you have any questions about Visa’s interchange rates or your merchant discount, please contact your financial institution.


MasterCard derives no direct benefit from interchange fees. Accordingly, there is no incentive for MasterCard:
•  To drive interchange fees upward as this would negatively impact merchant acceptance, or
•  To decrease interchange fees as this would negatively impact the ability for banks to issue cards.

To overcome the inefficiency of thousands of separate negotiations, MasterCard sets “default” interchange rates that may be used in the absence of separately negotiated arrangements. We also administer the collection and remittance of interchange fees through the settlement process.

Setting interchange rates at the right level is important because if interchange rates are set too high, merchants may choose not to accept cards. And if interchange is set too low, issuing banks have no incentive to cover the risks of issuing payment cards.

In fact, the aim of setting interchange fees at the optimal level is to ensure that issuers and acquirers will deliver services that optimize the effectiveness of the payments system and spur development of new and innovative payment solutions. Flexible interchange rates are essential to ensuring that merchants and consumers receive maximum value for electronic payments at the lowest cost. Interchange also promotes credit availability for small businesses and is a key driver for ensuring financial inclusion when it is set at optimal level.
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