Visa’s interchange rates: Everything you need to know

Tilly Michell5 minutes
Visa’s interchange rates: Everything you need to know
In this article

Every time someone uses a card to make a transaction with your business, the merchant acquirer (the bank or financial institution that processes the payments for you) pays a small percentage of that transaction to the cardholder’s bank. This percentage is known as an interchange fee. Your business then pays the interchange fee back to the merchant acquirer as part of your card processing fees. 

Of the four main types of credit cards - Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover - Visa is by far the most common, making up 52.8% of cards in circulation. This indicates that Visa interchange rates play a critical role in the global financial ecosystem for both businesses and consumers, and it’s important for any business that accepts Visa to understand the fees they’ll be charged when customers use Visa cards to purchase from them. 

Understanding Visa interchange rates

Interchange fees are paid to the card issuer (that’s the financial institution that issues the customer with their credit or debit card) to cover handling costs, coverage in the risk of fraudulent activity, the costs that come with bad debts and the risk that comes with approving the payment. Interchange fees are set by card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard. In some instances, the card issuer and the card network are the same institution, this is the case for American Express cards.  

For Visa card transactions, the interchange rates are set by Visa and are a crucial component of the overall fees associated with accepting paymentVisa cards. As a major card network, Visa holds substantial influence in the credit card industry, including when it comes to setting interchange rates. Visa interchange rates are set using a number of factors, such as:

  • The type of card being used: Different types of Visa cards (debit, credit, rewards, and corporate) will have different interchange rates.

  • The chosen transaction method: Visa interchange rates can vary based on whether the transaction is conducted in-person (card-present - CP) or online/over-the-phone (card-not-present - CNP).

  • Risk factors: The level of risk associated with the credit card processing influences the interchange rate. For instance, transactions with higher fraud risk will likely have higher interchange rates.

Let’s take a general look at the current trends and standard Visa interchange rates for the different Visa card categories. 

1. Visa debit cards

The Visa interchange rate for debit cards is lower than for credit cards, because the risk of a customer being unable to pay for something is reduced when using a debit card. Visa's debit card interchange fees vary depending on whether the card is present (ie in a point of sale transaction) or not present (ie in an eCommerce transation).

2. Visa credit cards

Visa interchange rates for credit cards can vary based on the specific type of credit card (standard, rewards, premium), the risk associated with the transaction, and whether it's a card-present or card-not-present transaction. 

3. Visa rewards cards

Cards that offer rewards or cashback typically have higher interchange rates compared to standard credit cards. The rates may be higher due to the additional costs associated with providing rewards to cardholders that are incurred by businesses. 

4. Visa corporate cards

Corporate credit cards often have higher interchange rates due to the added services, benefits, and higher potential risk associated with using them.

Recent developments in Visa interchange policies

Global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, regulatory changes, fluctuations in global economies and the acceleration of digital payment innovations have impacted Visa’s approach to setting their interchange rates. 

Cardholders and merchants should always stay aware of Visa’s interchange policy updates to ensure they know how much of their money will go towards card processing fees. As well as this, businesses that operate internationally should be aware of additional foreign exchange (FX) charges when collecting payments from overseas customers, as some payment processors can charge upwards of 2% per transaction for currency conversion. 

Airwallex is designed to help merchants eliminate these FX fees. Airwallex enables your business to collect payments online in multiple currencies and settle ‘like-for-like’ into a Global Account, without having to convert funds to your home currency. You can then use those funds to pay international staff and suppliers, all whilst avoiding FX fees. 

Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reviewed the cost and impact of interchange rates in February 2022 to determine whether additional regulatory pressure needed to be applied to the market. As a result, the cap for debit and prepaid fixed rate interchange rates was reduced from $0.15 to $0.10, effective February 1st, 2022. For debit and prepaid interchange rates that are percentage-based, the cap remained at 0.20%. These interchange revisions are a small win for Australian businesses, adding up to an estimated $22 million in annual savings across the retail industry.

The United States

In the US, Visa is planning to raise interchange fees for accepting credit card transactions, with the increases set to commence in October 2023 and April 2024.

The European Union

EU regulation introduced in 2015 capped interchange fees at 0.2% of the transaction value for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards. However, following the Brexit transition period, Visa raised the interchange fees for online payments between the EU and the United Kingdom to 1.15% for debit card transactions and 1.5% on credit cards, citing fraud and growing competition.

Strategies for navigating Visa interchange fees

1. Stay updated

To be able to conduct proper financial planning for your business, you’ll need to ensure you stay updated with Visa’s fee structures and how they may affect your bottom line. Reading this article is a great start!

2. Research the right rate for you

Small and medium sized businesses can find a rate that’s right for them by shopping around for a cost-effective payment processor. Check out Airwallex’s pricing options to see if you could make a saving on your domestic and international card transactions. 

3. Adopt new technology to reduce fraud and chargebacks

Fraud and chargebacks are costly challenges to deal with, and a good payment processor will help protect you from them. Choose a payment processor, such as Airwallex, that comes with advanced fraud prevention technologies; such as 3D Secure (3DS) and pre-chargeback programs. 

Chargebacks happen when a customer disputes a transaction with their bank or card company, leading to a reversal of the payment. Chargebacks cost your business money, even if you win a payment dispute your business will incur a fee. Pre-chargeback programs are designed to help your business resolve disputes and fraudulent payments before they become chargebacks, typically by automatically refunding disputed transactions at a much lower cost than a traditional chargeback. The pre-chargeback programs that Airwallex supports include Visa Rapid Dispute Resolution (RDR) and Mastercard Collaboration. 

Where to find information on Visa’s interchange rates

You can find more information on Visa’s interchange rates, including a full breakdown of how their fees are applied in your region, on the Visa website

Keeping on top of interchange rates

In summary, for the most accurate financial planning and to mitigate unnecessary costs as much as possible, it pays for businesses to stay on top of Visa interchange rates. Staying informed about interchange fees and costs associated with payment processing will help you effectively manage your business’s finances and keep your books strong and balanced into the future. 

Stay ahead in your financial planning by keeping informed about Visa interchange rates. Contact our experts at Airwallex for more insights and personalised advice.

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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