A credit card interchange is a fee charged by the merchant to the consumer for using a credit or debit card as payment at the point of sale (POS).
The interchange fee is usually paid by the merchant, but it can also be passed on to the customer in the form of higher prices and fees.
The interchange fee is not regulated by any government agency and varies from one country to another. In some countries, merchants are required to pay an annual percentage rate (APR) based on their sales volume.
This is called a “merchant discount” and is used to offset the cost of providing the service.
In other countries, there is no requirement that merchants pass along the interchange fee to consumers.
Instead, they may charge customers directly for the use of their cards. If the merchant chooses this option, he will need to collect the amount of the fee from each customer before processing his transaction.
You should always check with your bank about how much you’ll have to pay when you make purchases with your credit card. Some banks do not charge anything for making payments with a credit card, while others charge a small fee.
How Does An Interchange Fee Work?
An interchange fee works like this: When you use a credit card to purchase something, the merchant pays a certain amount to the issuing bank. That money goes into a special account set up just for credit card transactions.
When you go to cash out at the end of the day, the merchant sends the money collected from you to the same account. Then, the bank takes its cut – the interchange fee – and gives the rest back to the merchant.
How Are Interchange Fees Calculated?
Merchants typically get 2% of every dollar spent with a credit card. For example, if a $100 purchase costs the merchant $1.00 in fees, then the merchant gets $2.00.
However, if the merchant charges the customer $3.00, then the merchant keeps all three dollars ($3.00 + $2.00—$5.00).
Why Do Merchants Pay An Interchange Fee?
There are many reasons why merchants must pay an interchange fee. More often than not, the main reason is that credit card companies require them to do so.
Credit Cards Have Expensive Merchant Discounts
Most credit cards come with a merchant discount. This means that the credit card company will give the merchant a lower interest rate than what would otherwise apply.
For example, let’s say that you want to borrow $500 for 30 days. You could finance the loan through a traditional lender such as a bank or savings & loan association. These lenders charge high rates of interest because they have to cover the risk of lending money.
However, if you had a credit card, the credit card company would offer you a better deal. They might charge you only 10%, instead of 20%. Why? Because the credit card company has already taken care of the risk involved in loaning money.
The credit card company has already calculated the risk of lending you money. It knows exactly how likely it is that you’ll default on your loan. So, the credit card company can afford to be more generous than a traditional lender.
The credit card company also makes money by charging a higher percentage of your total bill. So, even though you’re getting a lower interest rate, you’re still paying a lot more than you would if you borrowed the money yourself.
In addition to the lower interest rate, the credit card company may also waive any annual fee. The credit card company doesn’t need to collect an annual fee to earn money.
So, the credit card company offers these discounts to encourage consumers and merchants to use their services.
Can Interchange Fees Be Negotiated?
Many credit card issuers allow customers to negotiate the amount of the interchange fee. This means that you can ask the credit card company to reduce the amount of the fee.
You should always try to find out if the credit card issuer allows you to negotiate the interchange fee before you sign up for a new card.
If you don’t know whether you can negotiate the fee, then you shouldn’t sign up for a card until you’ve talked to the credit card company and learned about its policies.
How Does The Interchange Fee Affect Your Purchases?
When you make purchases using a credit card, the sales tax charged at checkout is usually paid by the credit card company. In other words, the sales tax is added to your purchase price.
When you use cash, however, you must pay sales tax when you buy something. For example, suppose that you spend $100 on groceries.
You’d normally pay $10 in sales tax. However, if you used a credit card, the grocery store would add $10 to your purchase price. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about collecting sales tax from the government.
If you pay for everything with cash, you won’t get a break from sales taxes. But, if you use a credit card, you’ll save some money.
To conclude, a credit card interchange is a fee that a credit card company charges merchants so that they can accept credit cards. When you use a credit card to make purchases, the credit card company will typically pass along part of this cost to you.
One important thing to keep in mind: The credit card companies are not required to give you a discount on the interchange fee.
Many people assume that credit card companies do this because they want to reward loyal customers, but this is not always the case. Therefore, you should thoroughly research your credit card company prior to taking on a new card.
Paul Martinez is the founder of EcomSidekick.com. He is an expert in the areas of finance, real estate, eCommerce, traffic and conversion.
Join him on EcomSidekick.com to learn how to improve your financial life and excel in these areas. Before starting this media site, Paul built from scratch and managed two multi-million dollar companies. One in the real estate sector and one in the eCommerce sector.