Interchange-Plus Pricing Definition

Merchant Account Interchange-plus Explained

What is Interchange-plus Pricing? Interchange-plus, also called “cost-plus” or “pass-thru” pricing, is the most transparent pricing structure available to merchants. “Interchange” refers to the fees assessed by card networks like Visa and MasterCard for the service of routing electronic payments. “Plus” refers to an additional, fixed markup added by a merchant account provider. In nearly all cases, Interchange-plus pricing is preferable to tiered pricing because it allows a merchant to see exactly how his or her transaction fees are calculated.

In a tiered pricing structure (which is the industry standard), a provider gathers certain card types into tiers, or “buckets,” and charges all cards in a given bucket at the rate of the most expensive card in the bucket. With Interchange-plus pricing, all cards are processed at their exact assigned interchange rate but with an additional, clearly disclosed provider markup on each card. For instance, if a provider offers a merchant a transaction rate of “Interchange + $0.18,” the merchant knows that the only cost being added by the provider is $0.18. Interchange fees themselves are non-negotiable and passed down to the providers, so the only way for providers to earn a profit is to add a markup of some kind. Interchange-plus makes it possible for merchants to make an apples-to-apples comparison in terms of the markups they are being charged.

Interchange-plus pricing was previously reserved for high-volume retailers only, but it is now available to all merchant sizes. To learn how to negotiate for Interchange-plus pricing and avoid hidden fees, see “Fee Sweep: How to Get the Merchant Services You Need Without Getting Scammed” (now available for free download).

Tiered vs. Interchange-Plus Video Explanation

Use of this video does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by CardPaymentOptions.com.

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I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry to start my own a small business. From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to write about it, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this insider knowledge to myself, so decided to build this website to help you research which providers to use and how to save money on rates and fees. I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers here. Simply scroll to the top of the page to find the search bar. You can also message me if you need any guidance.

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