Understanding Interchange Fees for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover

Card Fees

You’ll need to manage interchange fees when handling credit and debit card payments from your customers. These fees are necessary when you’re aiming to accept these payments.

Interchange fees are fees that credit card companies charge businesses for when they use their cards. You will pay the credit card brand for the convenience of handling the payment option. The expense comes because your customers will want to use these cards. You’re paying to ensure the card company can safely handle these transactions. All risks are covered when you pay your interchange fees.

The greatest concern with these interchange fees is that they will vary by the type of card used. Each card company charges different amounts of money for the convenience of service. The rates will vary surrounding many factors:

  • Whether a card is swiped or keyed
  • Whether the card is a debit or credit card
  • The card type someone uses; this includes a business-oriented card
  • The business type accepting the card payments

Sometimes the line of work you support might make a difference in the expense. Some card companies have different rates for multiple fields of work.

With these points in mind, here’s a look at the current interchange rates 2021 you can expect. You’ll need to note how these rates work if you want to find something you can afford to pay and manage. Each company charges different amounts of money, and they will have unique rates that might place more weight on some high-end cards.


The current interchange rates that Visa charges are relatively on par with the rest of the market:

  • You will spend 0.80% plus 15 cents for swiped retail debit transactions or 0.65% and 15 cents for keyed deals.
  • A retail credit transaction has a 1.51% and 10 cent cost for swiped transactions or 2.10% and 10 cents for keyed cards.
  • Restaurants pay lower interchange rates, including 1.54% and 10 cents for swiped credit transactions and 1.80% and 10 cents for keyed deals.
  • Visa Business cards will have interchange rates of 2.45% plus 10 cents for keyed transactions. It would be 1.70% plus 10 cents for swiped transactions. These cards tend to be used for high-end or expensive transactions for business purposes, hence the need to charge more money for transactions.


MasterCard is the next company to review. Here are the current interchange rates that MasterCard charges:

  • Retail debit transactions have low interchange rates of 0.05% plus 22 cents.
  • Credit card transactions for retail services are 1.58% plus 10 cents for swiped transactions or 1.89% and 10 cents for keyed ones.
  • Restaurant transactions have rates of 1.73% and 10 cents for credit cards or 0.05% and 22 cents for debit transactions.
  • MasterCard Credit Retail World transactions have a rate of 2.05% plus 10 cents. These deals work for international transactions and may support currency transfers for some purchases.


Discover does not provide details on its interchange fees to the public, thus requiring third-party entities to manage these transactions. Discover tends to charge higher rates to cover for some of the other promotional points the company’s cards offer, including how Discover doesn’t charge hidden fees for its services. Here are some of the more commonly-reported numbers surrounding interchange fees for Discover:

  • Debit card transactions have rates of 1.10% and 16 cents for swiped transactions and 1.75% and 20 cents for keyed transactions.
  • Credit card deals have swiped transactions of 1.56% and 10 cents and keyed deals of 1.87% and 10 cents.
  • The rates increase for Rewards and Premium Plus credit transactions. You may expect rates of at least 2% and 10 cents.

What About American Express?

American Express does not have specific rates for companies to follow. Your merchant or industry code will dictate the rates you might spend. American Express tends to charge more for its work than others, especially since American Express issues its own cards without working alongside traditional banks or other companies.

American Express also charges higher rates due to the prestige associated with the card. People who have Amex cards tend to earn more money and spend more on average. They may see the card as a status symbol of sorts, plus they might be more likely to have enough funds to pay off their cards without building interest. These points make it to where you’d spend more to accept Amex cards, although you’d still get more customers who might support the card.

The OptBlue program is available for those who cannot afford the high rates that Amex charges. OptBlue lets you accept Amex cards and broker lower rates, although this is only for those who have small amounts of money to handle.

Merchant Services Change Values

Merchant services will have separate interchange fees to go alongside the current interchange rates available. Processes like Square or Stripe may charge different rates, but some could also offer subscription processing efforts. You can review the rates for work depending on whatever works for any purpose you hold.

Flat rates may be available depending on who you hire. Flat subscription rates entail giving you access to lower rates. You would still cost a certain transaction for whatever needs you might hold. But the terms will vary surrounding whoever you hire.

A Final Note

The money you’ll spend on interchange fees can vary each year. You might spend thousands of dollars on these fees due to how much they might cover your work. These can add up after a while and can become tough if you take in more business than necessary. You’d need to calculate how well these charges will occur and what you might expect to spend.

You should look well at how you’re going to use merchant services to your benefit. The best merchant services will work when you understand the interchange rates you would spend and how they will vary surrounding the charges associated. You can use these details to figure out what is right for your business and how much you can expect to spend on services.