How Does Interchange Plus Merchant Pricing Stack up to Other Merchant Rate Structures?

For many merchants, credit card processing fees can be a source of confusion and frustration. The lack of transparency in traditional pricing models often leaves business owners in the dark about the true cost associated with credit card processing. Fee transparency is essential for merchants as it empowers them to make informed decisions about their payment processing partners. By better understanding the credit card fees they are paying, they can:

  • Accurately Predict Expenses – By knowing the exact fees associated with credit card transactions, merchants can better forecast their financials and manage budgets.
  • Compare Processors Effectively – When fees are clearly presented, it's easier for merchants to evaluate different payment processors and select the best fit for their business.
  • Negotiate Better Deals – Armed with a comprehensive understanding of fees, merchants can negotiate more effectively with payment processors to secure lower rates.

Interchange-plus pricing is an option that can provide merchants with this much needed clarity to help them make smart business decisions. In this article, we’ll explore what interchange-plus pricing is, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and why it's essential to choose a credit card processor that prioritizes transparency.

How Does Interchange-Plus Pricing Work?

Interchange-plus pricing (also referred to as cost-plus or pass-through pricing) is a more transparent and cost-effective model for merchants who process credit card transactions. This pricing structure separates the fees into two distinct components – the interchange fee and the markup fee.

  • Interchange Fee – The interchange fee is a percentage or fixed amount paid to the issuing bank or credit card company (such as Visa or Mastercard). These fees are highly variable and change depending on a variety of factors including the card brand, card type (credit or debit), whether the card is present during the transaction or not, payment security features, the merchant category code (or MCC), and if the card was run as a debit or credit card.
  • Markup Fee – The markup fee is a percentage or fixed amount charged by the payment processor that the business hired to facilitate the transaction.

This approach allows merchants to understand and predict their overall expenses. It also provides a level of detail that helps merchants clearly see the individual fees for each transaction, making it easier to compare payment processors and understand processing costs. To see how interchange-plus pricing works, let’s look at an example of how this model works in the real world.

Example: Imagine you own a retail store and have a merchant account. A customer comes in and purchases items worth $150.00 (including tax). They pay with a Visa Signature Preferred Consumer credit card. The interchange cost for this card is 2.10% + $0.10, which amounts to $3.25 ($3.15 from the percentage fee and $0.10 from the fixed fee). Your merchant account provider passes this cost to you, and in addition, charges a markup of 0.30% + $0.15, or $0.60 ($0.45 from the percentage fee and $0.15 from the fixed fee). Your total cost for processing the credit card is $3.85, which is 2.57% of the transaction amount.

In this example, interchange fees make up 84.4% of your total processing cost, highlighting the significance of interchange fees in the overall expense associated with credit card transactions.

It’s important for businesses to be aware of some of the misleading practices that some processors use to sell this model. While many providers advertise interchange-plus pricing on their websites, their quotes often only list the percentage-based markup and the fixed authorization fee. As you can see in the example above, interchange fees usually make up the bulk of the total processing costs. Businesses should always validate that the quote provided by credit card processors includes both interchange and markup fees.

Another key point to understand is that interchange fees are set by credit card associations. Some salespeople with credit card processors will claim they can negotiate a discounted rate. This is untrue. Credit card processors have no control over these fees.

The Downsides of Interchange-Plus Pricing

No fee structure is perfect. While there are numerous advantages to using an interchange-plus model, there are some disadvantages depending on the size and type of business that you operate. It’s important to carefully consider the downsides of interchange-plus pricing to confirm if it is the right fit for your business.

  • Complexity – The separation of interchange fees and markup fees can make the pricing model more challenging to understand initially, particularly for merchants accustomed to bundled or flat-rate pricing models.
  • Variable Fees – Interchange fees can vary depending on the type of card and transaction, making it difficult for merchants to predict their exact costs upfront.
  • Processor Markups – While markup fees are typically a fraction of the overall processing fee, processors can still impose high markups on transactions. Comparing quotes from multiple providers can help merchants identify processors who charge excessive fees.
  • Requires Higher Volume – Smaller businesses with lower monthly transaction volumes may not benefit as much from interchange-plus pricing compared to other pricing models, as they could face higher markups.

How Interchange-Plus Pricing Compares to Other Pricing Models

The interchange-plus pricing model isn’t the only option available in the payment processing industry. In addition to interchange-plus pricing, there are three other options that are the most common including bundled, flat-rate, and subscription-based pricing. Here's a brief overview of each alternative pricing model.

Bundled Pricing

Bundled pricing (also known as tiered rate pricing) combines the interchange fee and markup fee into a single rate, often categorized into tiers (e.g., qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified). While this model simplifies the fee structure, it obscures the true costs associated with each transaction and makes it difficult for merchants to compare payment processors.

Example: Imagine you own a boutique and have a merchant account that uses bundled pricing. A customer comes in and buys clothing worth $200.00. They pay with a Visa Rewards Consumer credit card. Your merchant account provider charges a qualified rate of 1.70% + $0.25 for this card, resulting in a total processing fee of $3.65 ($3.40 from the percentage fee and $0.25 from the fixed fee). In this case, it's difficult to determine how much of the fee is the interchange cost and how much is the markup fee.

Flat-rate Pricing

With this model, the payment processor charges a fixed percentage or per-transaction fee, regardless of the underlying interchange fees. Although simple to understand, flat-rate merchant pricing may not always be the most cost-effective option, as merchants may end up overpaying for certain types of transactions.

Example: Suppose you run an online store and have a merchant account with a flat-rate pricing model. A customer places an order worth $120.00 and pays using a Mastercard Platinum Consumer credit card. Your payment processor charges a flat rate of 2.75% per transaction, making your total processing fee $3.30. With this model, the processing fee remains the same regardless of the card type and underlying interchange fees, which could result in overpaying for some transactions.

Subscription-Based Fee Models

Under subscription-based models, merchants pay a fixed monthly subscription fee and a small per-transaction fee, which often includes the interchange fee and a nominal markup. This model provides more predictable costs for merchants, as the monthly fee remains constant, regardless of the volume of transactions. However, businesses with lower transaction volumes may not benefit as much from this model, as the fixed monthly fee could result in higher overall costs compared to other pricing structures.

Example: Imagine you operate a gym and have a merchant account that uses a subscription-based pricing model. A customer signs up for a membership costing $80.00 per month and pays with an American Express Gold Consumer credit card. Your payment processor charges a monthly subscription fee of $49.00 and a per-transaction fee of 0.10% + $0.25. In this case, the processing fee for the transaction would be $0.33 ($0.08 from the percentage fee and $0.25 from the fixed fee). Your total monthly cost for this single transaction, including the subscription fee, would be $49.33. However, as the number of transactions increases, the average cost per transaction decreases, making the subscription-based model potentially more cost-effective for high-volume businesses.

Interchange-plus pricing, known for its transparency and fairness, is often the most cost-effective option for businesses. However, it may not always be the ideal choice, especially for small businesses with lower transaction volumes. It's crucial to compare rate quotes from multiple providers and consider all associated fees before selecting a pricing model. While interchange-plus pricing works well for many businesses, high-volume merchants might find subscription pricing more advantageous. Ultimately, it's essential to explore various options and choose the one that best suits your business's unique needs.

Go With the Credit Card Processor People Trust

In the world of credit card processing, transparency is crucial for merchants to make informed decisions. At North American Bancard, we understand the importance of offering a wide range of options to our clients including interchange-plus pricing. Our goal is to provide you with the right credit card processing approaches to help you take control of your payment processing costs and ultimately improve your bottom line. Contact us today to learn more about our interchange-plus rates and fees.

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In today's digital economy, credit card processing is a vital service that enables businesses to accept payments from customers. Merchant services ISO programs play a crucial role in facilitating these transactions by providing companies with the tools and resources they need to process credit card payments efficiently and securely. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what merchant services ISO programs are, how to become a registered ISO, the benefits of white label credit card processing for starting a credit card processing company, how to become a payment processor, and how to sell credit card processing services to small businesses.

What is a Merchant Services ISO Program?

A Merchant Services ISO (Independent Sales Organization) program is a partnership between a merchant services provider and independent sales agents or companies that sell credit card processing services to businesses. ISOs act as intermediaries between businesses and payment processors, helping merchants set up merchant accounts and process credit card payments.

Key points about Merchant Services ISO Programs:

- ISOs provide businesses with the tools and technology they need to securely process credit card payments.
- ISOs typically earn revenue through merchant account fees, transaction fees, and other service charges.
- ISOs are responsible for managing merchant relationships, providing customer support, and ensuring compliance with payment card industry regulations.

How to Become a Registered ISO?

Becoming a registered ISO involves establishing a formal partnership with a payment processor or acquiring bank that allows you to offer credit card processing services to merchants. Here are the steps to become a registered ISO:

1. Research the Merchant Services Industry: Familiarize yourself with the merchant services industry and the requirements for becoming a registered ISO.
2. Establish a Business Entity: Register your business as a legal entity, such as a corporation or LLC, to conduct merchant services operations.
3. Partner with a Payment Processor: Establish a partnership with a payment processor or acquiring bank that will underwrite your merchant accounts and provide you with the necessary technology and support.
4. Obtain Necessary Licenses and Registrations: Obtain any required licenses or registrations to operate as a merchant services provider in your jurisdiction.
5. Develop Sales and Marketing Strategies: Create a plan for acquiring merchant clients and selling credit card processing services to businesses.
6. Train Your Sales Team: Provide training to your sales agents or employees on how to sell credit card processing services and comply with industry regulations.

Benefits of White Label Credit Card Processing for Starting a Credit Card Processing Company

White label credit card processing allows you to offer payment processing services under your brand without the need to develop your own technology or infrastructure. Here are some benefits of white label credit card processing for starting a credit card processing company:

- Branding Opportunities: White labeling allows you to build brand recognition and loyalty among merchants by offering credit card processing services under your own brand.
- Cost-Efficiency: White label solutions typically involve lower upfront costs and operational expenses than developing your own payment processing platform.
- Faster Time-to-Market: By white labeling a credit card processing solution, you can enter the market quickly and start serving merchants without the need for extensive development or testing.
- Scalability: White label credit card processing solutions can be easily scaled to accommodate the needs of growing businesses and handle higher transaction volumes.
- Technical Support: White label providers often offer technical support and assistance with integrating payment processing services into your existing systems.

How to Become a Payment Processor

Becoming a payment processor involves establishing the infrastructure and partnerships necessary to process credit card payments on behalf of merchants. Here are the steps to become a payment processor:

1. Partner with an Acquiring Bank: Establish a partnership with an acquiring bank that will underwrite your merchant accounts and provide you with the necessary network connections to process transactions.
2. Develop Payment Processing Technology: Build or license the technology needed to process credit card payments securely and efficiently.
3. Obtain Industry Certifications: Obtain any necessary certifications, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance, to ensure the security of payment transactions.
4. Secure Merchant Clients: Acquire merchant clients by offering competitive rates, excellent customer service, and reliable payment processing solutions.
5. Provide Technical Support: Offer technical support to merchants to ensure smooth transaction processing and resolve any issues that may arise.
6. Stay Compliant: Stay informed about industry regulations and compliance requirements to ensure that your payment processing operations adhere to legal standards.

How to Sell Credit Card Processing Services to Small Businesses

Selling credit card processing services to small businesses requires a proactive sales approach, strong customer service skills, and a thorough understanding of the merchant services industry. Here are some tips on how to sell credit card processing services to small businesses:

1. Identify Target Markets: Identify the industries and types of businesses that are most likely to benefit from credit card processing services, such as retail stores, restaurants, and e-commerce businesses.
2. Offer Competitive Rates: Provide merchants with competitive rates and transparent pricing to attract their business and differentiate yourself from competitors.
3. Provide Value-Added Services: Offer value-added services, such as payment gateway integration, fraud prevention tools, and reporting analytics, to help businesses improve their payment processing operations.
4. Build Relationships: Build strong relationships with merchants by providing excellent customer service, personalized support, and proactive communication.
5. Educate Merchants: Educate merchants about the benefits of credit card processing, including increased sales, improved cash flow, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
6. Stay Competitive: Stay informed about industry trends, competitor offerings, and new technology innovations to offer merchants the most up-to-date payment processing solutions.

In conclusion, becoming a registered ISO and starting a merchant processing company can be a rewarding and lucrative business venture. By understanding the merchant services industry, partnering with reputable payment processors, offering white label credit card processing solutions, and effectively selling credit card processing services to small businesses, you can build a successful payment processing business and help businesses thrive in today's digital economy.

Differentiating Your Payment Processing Company: Targeting High-Risk Merchants for Increased Profitability

In the ever-evolving world of e-commerce, standing out from the crowd can be a daunting task. However, by strategically focusing on high-risk merchants, your company can tap into a niche market with tremendous potential for growth and profitability. We understand that venturing into this territory may seem challenging, but rest assured, we are here to guide you towards success. With our proven strategies, industry expertise, and a confident approach, we will show you how to navigate the complexities of high-risk merchant accounts, mitigate risks, and maximize your profits. Get ready to revolutionize your payment processing business and carve a unique path in the industry!

Understanding the High-Risk Merchant Market 

To successfully start a credit card processing business, one must possess a comprehensive knowledge of the high-risk merchant market. This particular market consists of businesses that present a higher possibility of chargebacks and fraud compared to others. To effectively cater to these businesses, it is crucial to understand the specific services required and how they should be delivered. When it comes to selling merchant services, a confident approach is necessary. By demonstrating expertise in the high-risk merchant market and its unique demands, potential clients will be more inclined to trust and collaborate with your credit card processing business.

When starting a credit card processing business, one must have a comprehensive understanding of various industries that fall under the high-risk category. These industries include adult entertainment, travel services, gambling, and cryptocurrency companies. By familiarizing yourself with these specific sectors, you can effectively tailor your payment processing services to cater to their unique needs. This knowledge equips you with the necessary tools to ensure that your business offers the right solutions for these merchants, positioning you as a reliable and trustworthy partner within the industry. By confidently providing services that are specifically designed for high-risk businesses, you can establish yourself as an expert in the field and forge long-lasting partnerships with clients in these sectors.

Furthermore, in order to successfully start a credit card processing business, it is imperative to have a comprehensive understanding of how different payment processors handle high-risk merchants. By conducting thorough research and identifying which processors specialize in assisting high-risk merchants in obtaining approval for credit card processing services, you can guarantee that you are offering the utmost level of service to your clients. This knowledge will not only allow you to cater to the unique needs of high-risk merchants but also demonstrate your expertise and confidence in navigating the complex world of credit card processing. By staying up to date with the latest industry trends and understanding the intricacies of high-risk merchant accounts, you can position yourself as a reliable and trusted partner for businesses seeking credit card processing solutions.

Benefits of Targeting High-Risk Merchants 

If you're looking to start a credit card processing company, targeting high-risk merchants can be a lucrative strategy. One of the major benefits of focusing on these types of merchants is that they are often willing to pay higher processing fees. This means that by offering merchant services to high-risk businesses, you can increase your profitability. High-risk merchants understand the value of reliable and secure payment processing, and they are willing to invest in it. By positioning your business as a trusted provider of merchant services, you can confidently approach high-risk merchants and offer them a solution that meets their needs. So, if you're wondering how to sell merchant services, consider targeting high-risk merchants and capitalize on the opportunity to earn higher processing fees while helping these businesses thrive.

Next, starting a payment processing business allows you to tap into the underserved market of high-risk merchants, providing you with a unique advantage. With fewer competitors in this space, you have the opportunity to establish strong relationships with new customers who are in need of reliable payment processing services. By offering a solution tailored to their specific needs, you can position yourself as a trusted partner, gaining their loyalty and earning their business. This lack of competition, combined with the growing demand for payment processing services, gives you a confident edge in the market as you embark on this exciting entrepreneurial journey.

Strategies for Successfully Onboarding High-Risk Merchants 

One successful strategy for credit card processing agents looking to start a merchant processing business is to prioritize onboarding high-risk merchants. A crucial step in this process is ensuring that all relevant compliance requirements are met. To effectively manage the risks associated with high-risk merchants, it is necessary to diligently verify their identities and ensure that all required documentation is in order. By doing so, credit card processing agents can confidently establish a solid foundation for their business, complying with necessary regulations and mitigating potential risks.

All in all, starting a merchant processing business requires a careful assessment of each merchant's product or service to determine its risk profile and ensure effective risk management. By thoroughly evaluating merchants and setting specific criteria for onboarded merchants, the potential risks can be mitigated and success can be guaranteed. It is crucial to understand how to sell merchant services in a confident manner, as this knowledge will enable the business to navigate the complexities of the industry and establish long-term relationships with reliable and trustworthy merchants. By implementing these strategies, a credit card processing business can position itself as a trusted provider, driving growth and building a solid reputation in the market.

Establishing a Robust Payment Processing Infrastructure

When starting a payment processing company, it is crucial to establish a strong payment processing infrastructure. This requires thorough research to identify the ideal fit for merchant services, including a reliable point of sale system. Selling payment processing services necessitates confidence in the chosen infrastructure, as it serves as the backbone of any transaction. By conducting comprehensive research, one can ensure that they are equipped with the most optimal payment processing solution, providing seamless convenience and security to merchants and their customers.

Finally, to successfully start a credit card processing company, it is essential to partner with a payment processor that prioritizes the safety and security of customer data. By collaborating with a payment processor that offers fraud prevention services and secure transaction processing, you can assure your customers that their information is protected. This not only instills confidence in your clients but also establishes your company as a reliable and trustworthy business in the credit card processing industry. By considering these factors and investing in the right partnerships, you can confidently embark on your journey to becoming a credit card processing company and provide top-notch services to your clients.

In conclusion, targeting high-risk merchants for increased profitability is not an easy task, but with our guidance and expertise, success is within reach. By focusing on this niche market and implementing our proven strategies, your payment processing company can navigate the complexities of high-risk merchant accounts, mitigate risks, and maximize profits. Get ready to revolutionize your business and carve a unique path in the industry. We have the confidence to lead you towards prosperity, so let's embark on this journey together and make your company a standout success in the market.

Have Questions? 

Contact Shaw Merchant Group at (855) 200-8080

© Shaw Merchant Group is a registered DBA of EPX, a registered ISO of BMO Harris Bank N.A., Chicago, IL, Fresno First Bank, Fresno, CA, and Citizens Bank N.A., Providence, RI.