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2019 Interchange Updates

Interchange, dues, and assessments (aka “Interchange”) refer to fees set by the card associations (VISA, MC, DISC, AMEX) that represent the base or “wholesale” costs of accepting credit/debit cards.  All businesses incur these fees, which are paid directly to the card associations and card issuing banks.  Interchange rates vary based on the card brand, the card type (consumer, debit, business), how the card information was captured (swiped/key entered/ecommerce), the industry of the merchant,and the data provided (zip code, invoice #, etc).  There are hundreds of possible designations, but understanding interchange rules can help ensure costs are minimized.

Every April and October, the card associations publish new updates to their Interchange fees.  In general, rate adjustments are minimal, and most merchants will hardly notice an impact to their bottom line.  Some adjustments, however, are worth highlighting.  Below is a summary of the more relevant updates from April, 2019.


Visa is increasing the costs of international transactions.  Merchants will pay about 0.20% and $0.02 per transaction more to accept credit card payments made using foreign issued cards.

Impact: For companies accepting foreign cards, this represents a significant increase.   


Mastercard has made a number of changes to their business card interchange rates and qualifications.  Merchants who utilize a POS capable of capturing level 2/3* data may see rate increases between 0.10-0.15% on some cards that previously qualified for rate 3 optimization, as Mastercard is phasing out several data rate 3 classifications. 

Impact: We pulled a sample list of B2B clients that we know accept these types of cards.  After examining the data, these changes should ultimately have a minimal impact on the vast majority of our B2B clients. 

Mastercard is also introducing a Commercial Freight interchange category.  Merchants in qualifying industries who process virtual commercial cards in an automated accounts payable environment will qualify for this new rate.  

Impact: We are reviewing clients who may benefit from this update.


Discover did not make any significant changes this year.  Restaurants will see a slight increase in pricing, while supermarkets and grocery stores will see a slight decrease.  Any key entered discover transactions will also see a minor rate increase. 

Impact: These changes will have no more than a 0.05% effect on Discover fees for affected merchants.


American Express is increasing the rates on B2B/Wholesale transactions by 0.10%.  They have also increased rates on restaurant transactions above $30 by 0.10% and introduced a new, lower rate for any restaurant transactions under $15.  Any merchant categorized as a Services & Professional Services company will see rate increases between 0.05-0.10% depending on the transaction amount. 

Impact: Some merchants in the aforementioned industries will feel the effects more than others, depending on the ratio of AMEX sales volume to total card volume processed. 

Finally, AMEX is introducing a new card category called vPayments.  Any virtual commercial card used in an automated accounts payable environment will qualify for this new program. 

Impact: We are reviewing clients who may benefit from this update.

We understand the complexity of interchange rules and rates can be overwhelming.  If you have any questions about interchange or how these updates might impact your business, please give us a call at 913-890-4900. 

*Level 2/3 data refers to a set of additional information that can be captured and passed through to the processor during a transaction.  By capturing this data, merchants in B2B industries can secure lower interchange rates.  Only specialized POS systems are capable of passing this data through during the transaction.  MSP always ensures our clients are optimized for Level 2/3 qualifications, when applicable.

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