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In a rush? Check out our top credit card processors that offer interchange-plus pricing.

Accepting credit cards in your business is something of a two-edged sword. On one hand, they’re extremely convenient for your customers, which generally translates into more sales. At the same time, processing a credit card transaction costs money, and the fees associated with maintaining a merchant account cost even more money. These expenses eat into your profits and increase your overall cost of doing business. Nonetheless, as customers increasingly turn away from paying with cash and use credit or debit cards whenever possible, most businesses will have to accept credit cards in order to remain competitive.

Determining in advance how much a merchant account is going to cost you with any degree of certainty is a nearly impossible task. There are literally hundreds of competing processors out there, each charging different fees and rates. Processing rates themselves are affected by a bewildering number of variables, one of which is the pricing model offered by your merchant account provider.

The overall cost of your merchant account is going to be a combination of the rates you have to pay your processor for each credit/debit card transaction and the fees that you also have to pay, usually on a monthly or yearly basis. While we’re going to focus on processing rates for this article, be aware of this: Fees are generally the same for a given merchant account provider, regardless of the size of your business. If your provider charges $99 a year for PCI compliance, you’ll pay that fee whether you have $100,000 in annual sales, or $1 million. So, for small or micro-sized businesses (or new businesses just starting up), fees are probably going to be the biggest expense you incur by having a merchant account. For larger businesses with higher sales volumes, processing rates will usually be your biggest expense.

🏆 Our Top Picks For Credit Card Processing 🏆

What Types of Pricing Models Are There?

Obviously, you’ll want to get the lowest processing rates you can get, right? In theory, lower processing rates should lead to less of the money from your sales going to your processor and more of it staying with you. In actual practice, it’s much more complicated than that.

Let’s start by looking at the general types of pricing models for setting processing rates. There are four of them: 1) tiered pricing, 2) interchange-plus pricing, 3) subscription/membership pricing, and 4) blended pricing.

Tiered pricing is, unfortunately, still the most common pricing model available, and the one most processors offer to their merchants. We don’t like it. Tiered pricing simplifies a huge number of processing rates into three basic tiers: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. Which tier a particular transaction will fall into depends on a number of criteria, which are set by the processor. These criteria include things such as card-present versus card-not-present transactions, whether the transaction was processed on the same day it occurred, and which one of a host of possible categories the items purchased fall into. Tiered pricing may seem tempting, because it simplifies a lot of variables into just three tiers, making your monthly statement much easier to decipher. Unfortunately, while the numbers may be easier to understand, they’ll often be a lot higher than you were expecting. Tiered pricing models make it impossible to tell how much of a processing charge is going to the issuing bank, the credit card associations (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, etc.), and how much is going to your merchant account provider. Tiered pricing also leads to a very deceptive marketing gimmick: the provider will advertise the lowest possible (i.e., qualified) rate, but most transactions won’t actually be qualified, and will process at a much higher rate.

Interchange-plus pricing, on the other hand, breaks down the charges going to the issuing bank and credit card associations, allowing you to see the markup they’re charging you for processing your transaction. This is a much more transparent pricing model, but it also makes your statements harder to read. In most cases, that will be a small price to pay, as interchange-plus pricing rates are usually lower overall than tiered rates.

Subscription/membership pricing is a little different. You’ll still pay the interchange rates that go to the issuing banks and credit card associations, but instead of paying a percentage markup to your processor, you’ll pay a monthly membership fee and a fixed per-transaction charge. Depending on the nature and size of your business, this pricing model can potentially result in even lower overall costs than interchange-plus pricing. However, very few processors currently offer it. For an example of subscription pricing, see our review of Payment Depot.

Flat/blended pricing is similar to tiered pricing, but the three tiers are blended together into a single flat rate for all transactions. This rate is, naturally, quite a bit higher than what you’d pay under a tiered plan. However, the lack of a monthly fee can make it more affordable overall for small or seasonal businesses. Square and PayPal use blended pricing.

For a more thorough discussion of these pricing models, please see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.

What Is Interchange-Plus Pricing?

While the actual numbers can get pretty complex, at its core interchange-plus pricing is quite simple. The pricing model consists of two elements: an “interchange” and a “plus.” The interchange is the percentage of the transaction that must be paid to both the issuing bank and the credit card association. Because your processor has to pay this charge, they’ll pass it on to you. The plus is the amount over and above the interchange costs that you’ll also have to pay to your processor. It’s their markup for processing your transaction, and it’s designed to cover their costs of doing business – and also to generate a profit.

Interchange-plus pricing is sometimes referred to by alternate names, such as interchange pass through pricing or cost-plus pricing. These different terms all refer to the same thing.

Interchange-plus pricing rates are usually expressed as the interchange rate plus a markup, which can be a percentage, a flat, per-transaction fee, or both. Payline Data, for example, currently charges interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction for a retail transaction.

So, how much will the interchange cost you? These fees are set directly by the credit card associations, and they can get pretty complicated. There are different rates for debit and credit cards, for example, as well as different rates for different types of credit cards. Card-present and card-not-present transactions also have different rates, as they reflect the level of risk the issuing bank is taking in extending credit for a given transaction. If you really want to dig deeper into the subject, official rate information from Visa and MasterCard is also available online.

Here’s an example of how this all works in practice:

You own a retail store and have a merchant account with Payline. A customer comes in and purchases an item for $100.00 (including tax). He pays with a MasterCard Consumer credit card. The interchange cost is 1.580% + $0.10, or $1.68. Payline passes this cost to you, plus they charge a markup of 0.20% + $0.10, or $0.30. Your total cost for taking the credit card is $1.98, or 1.98%.

How Will Interchange-Plus Pricing Save Me Money?

The fundamental flaw with the traditional tiered-pricing model is that it hides the interchange costs and allows processing companies to charge more of a markup. By consolidating a wide variety of rates into a smaller number of tiers, processors can essentially “round up” to the highest rate in each tier. While this may make your monthly statement a lot easier to read, it also means you’ll be paying higher rates for a lot of transactions – and you probably won’t be able to tell which transactions are being charged abnormally high rates.

By showing you the actual interchange costs, interchange-plus pricing allows you to more easily see what the markup is. This in turn encourages processors to set more reasonable markups. The credit card processing industry is highly competitive, and processors know that many merchants will sign up with the company that offers them the lowest rates. This transparency in separating out interchange and markup costs generally results in lower overall rates, and most interchange-plus pricing plans will cost you less money than a tiered-pricing plan. However, you should be aware that there’s nothing stopping a processor from charging you an unreasonably high markup. The difference is that it will be a lot easier to spot, especially if you shop around.

What About American Express?

American Express is different! Unlike Visa and MasterCard, American Express credit cards are issued directly by American Express – a financial services company. Thus, American Express serves as both the issuing bank and the credit card association. This should lead to lower rates, right? Wrong! Remember that American Express requires its cardholders to pay off their balance in full every month. While this is a sound financial practice for consumers, it also deprives Amex of the opportunity to charge interest on the unpaid credit card balances. They make up for this by charging significantly higher processing rates than Visa or MasterCard.

Until very recently, accepting American Express cards was a real hassle, requiring merchants to sign up directly with American Express. In 2014, however, American Express introduced their OptBlue Pricing plan, which allows merchants to accept Amex cards through their regular merchant account provider. Processing rates are still higher than Visa or MasterCard, but it’s a definite improvement over the older arrangement. While not all merchant account providers support OptBlue Pricing, most of our preferred providers include it as part of their accounts.

Final Thoughts

In general, we really like interchange-plus pricing. It has the potential to save you a lot of money, and it’s definitely much more transparent than traditional tiered-pricing plans. Most of our preferred providers offer it. In fact, many of the best and most innovative processors in the industry (such as Dharma and Payline) offer it exclusively.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Until fairly recently, interchange-plus pricing was only available to larger, more-established businesses. Processors felt that they could compensate for offering lower rates by only making it available to merchants who had a very high monthly sales volume. Traditional small businesses were stuck with tiered pricing plans, and forced to pay a premium for being small businesses.

Today, getting interchange-plus pricing is easier than it’s ever been. However, it’s not a guaranteed thing. Some processors still don’t offer it at all. Many other processors offer both tiered and interchange pricing, and they usually don’t disclose this fact in their advertising. A lot of these processors also rely on independent sales agents, who will – naturally – try to sign you up with a more expensive tiered pricing plan. If you want interchange-plus pricing, you’ll have to ask for it.

It’s also worth noting that interchange-plus pricing is not a 100% guarantee of lower rates. Processors are still able to make money at your expense by charging above-industry-average markups as part of their pricing plan. The difference is that it’s much easier to see that they’re doing it, at least if you shop around before signing up with a processor.

You also need to consider the overall cost of your merchant account, especially if you’re a smaller business. As we’ve noted above, your rate plan is only one part of the equation. While it might be the largest part of that equation, you also need to look closely at monthly and annual fees before signing up with any processor. The availability of interchange-plus pricing is not a guarantee that you’ll be getting the best overall deal.

Our best advice is to shop around before settling on a particular provider. If you want to save yourself a lot of time and aggravation in doing so, check out what the best providers in the industry have to offer first.

🏆 Our Top Picks For Credit Card Processing 🏆

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl has been writing about merchant services, payment gateways, and international money transfer services since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate from the Ventura College of Law. After a long and enjoyable career of traveling around the world as an Air Force navigator, he’s comfortably settled down in the wine country town of Paso Robles in California’s scenic Central Coast region. He enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and numerous other outdoor pursuits.
Frank Kehl
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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


    We are in the restaurant business with monthly volume of $320,000 per location. We use the POSitouch system and have WorldPay process our credit cards. For some reason we are having trouble getting EMV readers that are compatible with POSitouch. POSi wants us to use their processing company Shift4. Any reviews on this company?

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Anna,

      We’d actually recommend switching to a different provider, as you can see, we don’t score Worldpay very highly. We haven’t yet reviewed Shift4, however our understanding is they’ve merged with Harbortouch, who we score even lower. At your monthly processing volume, any of our top-rated providers that offer interchange-plus pricing would be a better choice. Making the switch won’t be cheap, though, as you’ll have to replace all your current POS systems. It’s probably worth it in the long run if you’re currently lacking EMV equipment. We wish you all the best!


        Thank you for the information! I currently have both Dharma and Payment Depot. I wanted to see if there is a cost difference.

        My question is is there a cost difference between an EMV (card present) transaction and eCommerce transaction (processed online)?

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Jack,
          Yes. eCommerce transactions will always be card-not-present, and the processing rates for those types of transactions are always higher (usually by around 0.5%) to reflect the increased level of risk because the merchant is unable to verify the customer’s identity and cannot physically examine the credit card. How that affects specific processing rates will depend on the pricing model being used. For interchange-plus or subscription pricing, the interchange rates for CNP transactions are higher. Flat-rate pricing plans (such a with Square) simply charge a higher rate for CNP transactions. Tiered pricing plans usually downgrade the transaction to non-qualified, which results in a higher processing rate. I hope that helps break it down for you!


            Having an auto repair shop that is doing between $40,000 – $60,000 in sales per week, what would be the best processing company to use?

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Tina,

              Thanks for reaching out! At your processing volume, you’d definitely be eligible for custom pricing with most of our top choices. I’d suggest taking a look at Payment Depot or Dharma. Best of luck!

                George labrada

                I got an account with united merchant solutions. Was great the first 3 momths then went down hill. What we agreed was 1 main account with 2 side accounts. Got into a 48 month lease for a terminal. When we did the math it worked out. But started getting charged tripple not for the terminal but the meechant. Called in and they said it was set up as 3 accounts. After months of bad customer service and they couldn’t honor what was on the contract was able to terminate due to breach of contract. But was told that the terminal lease company ascentium is separate and have to deal with them. Talked to the lease company and said thet to cancel with them would cost $2,000 or keep paying the $53 for 39 months more. Any advise besises dont lease terminals.

                  Jessica Dinsmore

                  Hi George,

                  This sounds like an all around bad deal; I’m sorry! Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do in this situation. Most lease contracts are noncancelable, meaning the merchant is on the hook for all 48 payments as soon as they sign up, even if they later go out of business. If you’re just switching providers, the lease company is even less likely to cut you some slack. You should probably check your lease contract and see if there are any possible ways to contest the lease. That’s going to be your best bet. Wish I had better news! Best of luck to you!

                    Kelvin Hendryan Arciady

                    What kind of pricing is this and is it good i got it from monaris, card plan pricing?

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                    Laidlaw, Dawn
                    Kelvin Arciady
                    Nov 8 at 7:36 AM
                    3 attachments
                    Kelvin there are 2 different terminals we can put in for you. Both will process debit and credit cards and they both offer all the same features. The vx520 is a little faster but the ict250 has a larger memory. They are on a monthly rental. We do not have ATM machines. Below is pricing for your review. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

                    Processing System:

                    Ict250 terminal – $25.00 per month

                    Vx520 terminal – $22.00 per month

                    Debit $0.04 per transaction

                    Tap debit transaction are an additional $0.035

                    Merchant Account:

                    Total Set-up Fee – $75.00

                    Card Plan Pricing

                    You will be on what we call simplified pricing. That is interchange cost plus $0.15. I have attached all the interchange rates for your review. I am happy to go over this with you.

                    Account Service Fee – $4.95/month

                    The Account Service fee gives you 3 items – 1. Access to our 24-hour helpdesk for all of your customer service needs, 2. Complete the deposit settlement to the business bank account of your choice and 3. Full online reporting suite through the Moneris Merchant Direct system (

                    PCI Compliance Fee – $00 / month

                    The PCI Compliance fee is applied to Moneris merchant accounts to help fund Moneris’ ongoing investment in security and infrastructure. This initiative will ensure that continuous improvements and investments are made to provide you with a more secure platform to process cardholder data and protect against any cardholder data breaches.

                      Jessica Dinsmore

                      Hi Kelvin,

                      This is essentially interchange-plus (at least for credit card transactions). The rates quoted are very good (except for the setup fee), but I’d recommend reviewing all contract documents thoroughly in case there are additional fees beyond what’s disclosed in the pricing quote. Best of luck!

                        Deborah Collier

                        I got a call from someone from Merchants Associates who told me they weren’t 3rd party processors but processed directly with card issuers. Saying I had earned lower rates by having no charge backs they could remove 100% of any markups & reduce my costs by 54.58%, which of course looks good on paper especially if you don’t understand most of this on a good day. Have you done a review on them or does anyone have first hand knowledge of how they operate?

                          Jessica Dinsmore

                          Hi Deborah,

                          Unfortunately we haven’t reviewed Merchants Associates yet, so we can’t give an assessment one way or the other. With that said, a quick google search turned up a 4.7/5 BBB rating. Good luck!

                            Ali B

                            Hi Frank,

                            Thanks so much for your article. I’m starting a company and the price of my first product (currently the only SKU) will be $11.99. The Stripes of the world with their flat feels are going to eat my margin.

                            What payment processor would your recommend in this case (low dollar sale/transaction total, low margin)?

                            Thank you!

                              Frank Kehl


                              With such a relatively low average ticket size, you’re going to want the lowest per-transaction charge you can find. The base percentage processing rate isn’t as important in this case. Depending on your monthly processing volume, a processor that offers subscription-based pricing might be your best deal overall. Take a look at Payment Depot. They offer a number of subscription options and low per-transaction fees.


                                Hello, thanks for the great info on here.. I’m currently trying to wade through several CC processing companies and was hoping to get your advice on a few. Our current processor is Interchange +0.10+$0.10 a transaction with a $25 montly fee. Amex through them is approximately %2.90. I’m also looking as Square. They quoted me interchange + 0.35. That’s it, no fees, and that included Amex as well. We currently do about 1.3 million in CC sales each season, with our adverage sale around $179.

                                Thanks in advance for any advice!

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                  Hi Beau,
                                  Thanks for your positive feedback! We would really need much more info to make that determination for you. I recommend you check out these two articles on negotiating the perfect credit card deal and how much you should be paying for credit card processing. After reading through them, you should be able to make an informed decision for your business. Good luck!

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Frank Goldberg

                                    Interchange Pricing can be much more misleading than the basic synopsis provided by the author of this article. For example, the author names Helcim as one of his favorite processors, however, Helcim is not a processor. Helcim pays Elavon to do their actual processing.

                                    Elavon has additional fees that they charge called “Exception Charges” which are explained, on Elavon’s own website, as “…fees applied to transactions that are downgraded by the Card Schemes.” Since most consumers use Rewards cards, these days, this means that merchants are charged more for a good, (if not a vast,) majority of their transactions.

                                    Some major banks and back-end processors, including Worldpay, have made their OWN Interchange Tables which are 0.5% above the actual Card Association’s Interchange Tables.

                                    Some banks, including Wells Fargo, have a fee called an “Interchange Clearing Fee.” Akin to the above-mentioned “Exception Charges,” Interchange Clearing Fees are described as “…a surcharge that Wells Fargo Merchant Services applies to sales volume routed to interchange categories that it does not feel qualifies for the base markup.” This is rather ambiguous as they could claim that any or all of your transactions failed to qualify for the pricing that they quoted to you.

                                    With all of that being said, it is important to find out if the company that you choose to handle your money is going to charge you the actual Card Association Interchange cost or their own Interchange cost. In addition, it is important to find out of your processor has “Interchange Clearing Fees” or “Exception Charges” as these are utterly unnecessary fees.

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.


                                      I need help with finding a good HONEST, REPUTABLE “Merchant Account” for credit repair AND Gateway. Also, have you ever heard of Chargebee?

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                        Hi Tanja,

                                        Credit repair businesses are often considered “High Risk”, so with that said, Durango would be your best bet.

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.


                                          What would be the best transaction processor for online payments, that I can also integrate into my online scheduling software, so that the customer has to pre pay for services?

                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                            Jessica Dinsmore


                                            It really depends on what scheduling software you’re using. What I would do is ask your software vendor which payment processors they can integrate with, then come back to Merchant Maverick and see if any of them have been reviewed by us. Pick the one with the highest rating, and you’re done!

                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                              Gary Parks

                                              Thank you for your research for helping newbies to the world of credit card processing.
                                              I have a scenario for you that I didn’t see mentioned. I have a 9 rental units (houses) in 5 cities. A couple of my tenants asked if they could pay their rent with their credit card their 2% cash back. I have not accepted credit cards in the past (only cash, check or an epayment service that charges the tenant a $3 processing fee to take it out of their checking account), but was willing to look into it. Using an average rent of $1000/month, what can i expect the cost to me to be for say 3 to 8 of those tenants paying by card? And what if only 1 or 2 tenants pay that way in a given month — would my cost be higher or lower? If we’re talking 3% on $1000, then can I pass along that $30 charge in some way?
                                              I’m retired on a fixed pension and waiting for these rentals to start running more in the black than the red, so I’m a little leery about this. Thanks in advance for your reply.

                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                Gary Parks

                                                PS. I forgot to mention that I don’t meet with tenants personally to receive cash or check payments (they’re mailed to my PO Box), so I would not ever use a terminal. They would need to go online somewhere to pay with their card.

                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                  It doesn’t sound like you would have a large enough monthly processing volume to justify the expense of a full merchant account, although your processing rates would be lower. You might want to consider PayPal, as it would be quite easy to set up an online payment option for your tenants. Passing on the cost of processing (also known as merchant surcharging) is a complex issue with no easy yes/no answer. Take a look at our article Your Complete Guide to Credit Card Surcharges for more information.

                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                    Madeleine Holt

                                                    Thank you for this information…not only was it extremely helpful for me…it helped me gained confidence that I am doing the right thing for my clients….I dont feel shady anymore…Thank you ever so much….

                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.


                                                      Hi Frank…

                                                      I found your blog very helpful and was wondering if I could get your opinion on something. We’ve been approached by a third party who states that they will negotiate with the credit card processor to get us an interchange plus rate which will accomplish a rate reduction over the tiered pricing we’re currently paying. In addition, they say they will monitor and analyze the processing activity going forward to watch for rising rates or added fees. They want a 40% split of the money they save us above what it’s costing us with our current plan. My thought is that we likely could get interchange plus pricing on our own, thus realizing 100% of any savings. Do you see any benefit of having a third party “do the work” other than saving us time? Do you think there’s anything that they might be able to do for us that we could not do on our own? I’d be very interested in getting your opinion. Thank you for your time.

                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                        Frank Kehl


                                                        This sounds pretty shady. First of all, you definitely can negotiate to get an interchange-plus plan on your own, either with your current processor (if they offer it) or by switching to a new processor. Also, who determines exactly how much money you’re saving? Probably the company that’s going to bill you for 40% of it. After they apply some “creative accounting,” you’ll probably be paying more than 40%. I wouldn’t bother. For tips on how to do it yourself and keep all of your savings, check out our article on How to Negotiate the Perfect Credit Card Processing Deal.

                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.


                                                          yeah capitalism is GREAT!

                                                          spaceship take me home!

                                                          totally fubar

                                                          thanks for trying to make sense of it though

                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                            Vaibhavi Gala


                                                            Thank you for helping simplify all of this. We are shopping for a credit card processing company. And among all the offers we got, we have shortlisted two options (details below).

                                                            I don’t understand this much and was thinking of going with option 1 for the simplicity but based on your advice above, it seems like I should go with option 2. Is that correct?

                                                            How do the rates below look? Are there any things we should clarify with the vendor before signing? What is an average I can expect with the Interchange Plus pricing?

                                                            Thank you so much for your help!


                                                            Option 1: Tiered Pricing

                                                            Credit Card:

                                                            Mid-Qualified (Card Not Present) – 2.29% + $0.18 per transaction
                                                            Non-Qualified (Corporate, Government, Premium Rewards) – 2.99% + $0.18 per transaction
                                                            American Express – 2.89% + $0.30 per transaction (0.30% Card Not Present additional fee)
                                                            Monthly service & statement fee – $15.00
                                                            Monthly PCI Protection and Compliance – $6.99 (see below)
                                                            Annual Fee- $20.00 WAIVED

                                                            ACH\EFT processing fees below:

                                                            Per Debit – $0.25 per transaction
                                                            Per Credit – $0.50 per transaction
                                                            Per Return – $2.49 per occurrence
                                                            Per Charge-back – $25.00 per occurrence
                                                            Monthly Fee – $20.00

                                                            Option 2: Interchange Plus pricing

                                                            IC + 0.10% + $0.10 and $0.10 authorization per transaction

                                                            American Express
                                                            IC + 0.40% + $0.30 and $0.10 authorization per transaction

                                                            Monthly Fees
                                                            $15 – Service and Statement Fee
                                                            $6.99 – PCI Compliance Fee

                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                              Based on the numbers you provided, option #2 is probably the better option, although it’s impossible to say for certain without further information. You’ll want to consider not only your average monthly processing volume, but also the average ticket size and average number of transactions. Interchange rates have a tremendous number of variables, which is why they’re harder to understand than tiered rates. Nonetheless, most interchange rates will end up being lower than the tiered rates in option #1. Check out Helcim’s overview of interchange rates to get an idea of which ones will apply to your business most often (

                                                              Also, be aware that a merchant account with lower rates isn’t always less expensive overall. Fees can more than offset lower processing rates, especially for a small business. While the fees you quoted seem pretty reasonable, you’ll want to look out for early termination fees, liquidated damages clauses, and terminal leasing fees (if they apply to your business).

                                                              I hope this helps! If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                Anna Reutov

                                                                Heartland Payment Systems is the only company in this slimy industry is all about doing the right thing for all business owners. Company based on Honesty, Integrity and Full Transparency. Heartland does not need to come in to a business and say “I can give you this rate” or “what rate did they give you? I can beat it!” Heartland already has the rate. Interchange rates are set by Issuing banks and Branded Cards and no Merchant company has any control over that. The plus rate is where Merchant company has control over. Most of them are ISO’s and the pricing is usually Interchange Plus Plush is what I like to call it.
                                                                Branded Cards and Issuing banks need to get paid, Core processor needs to get paid, then the ISO or the Bank. At Heartland Payment Systems there is no “middle man” no bank no ISO to work with. So you get Wholesale pricing.
                                                                email me for more info.

                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                  Jacob Slaffey

                                                                  I am considering joining this company as a sales rep.

                                                                  How are they rated

                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                    Kate Marshall

                                                                    We are launching up online store and searching for merchant service.
                                                                    Without physical store, only online card processing and occasional swipes at conventions are expected.

                                                                    Have you heard about Uswipe- They were offering special no monthly fees for wholesale pricing (0.20% plus pass through) during convention and wondering if they are reliable company. Any of your recommendations and thoughts would be really appreciated. Thanks!

                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                      Tom DeSimone

                                                                      Hi Kate,

                                                                      Unfortunately a bunch of the links on the uSwipe site are dead, including the pricing page and features page, so I’m not able to look over their info. A 0.20% markup with no monthly fee would be a tremendously good deal, especially for a mobile processing app, which makes me very suspicious. (You know what they say about things that seem too good to be true…) It wouldn’t be possible for uSwipe to make money on your account with that kind of pricing, so you should expect other hidden fees to be involved.

                                                                      Since you will only need to swipe on the go occasionally, you should focus on finding a good provider for e-commerce. Any good provider will include free access to a virtual terminal (so you can take orders over the phone, entered into any internet-connected computer). Most processors will also be glad to set you up for mobile processing at little added cost if you’re already doing business with them for e-commerce. (You might have to buy the card reader in some cases.) Or you could just get the mobile processing account from a separate company like Flint or PayPal Here.

                                                                      One way or another, I don’t think uSwipe is right for you. I’d probably recommend CDGcommerce. Ten bucks per month, access to free in-house payment gateway and virtual terminal, 0.30% plus $0.15 per transaction, plus I’m pretty sure they’ll give you a free mobile reader. Check out the review!

                                                                      Good luck,

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                                                                        Chris Smith


                                                                        I am hoping you can clarify something for me about Eliot Management. I signed a contract; however at the time did not have my business account open. They basically said to just send it in when I got it open. Unfortunately in the hurry of trying to get everything done for my business, I didn’t properly check into them. I have two questions. One since I haven’t given them my account information, but have signed a contract, is it possible for me to cancel? I’m sure they will tell me I have to pay the fee, but not sure how they could enforce that without my account information. Second, above you talk about interchange plus where the fee charged by Visa (often 1.50%) is passed on to the merchant. The rates they gave me: 1.69% standard rate, do you know if that includes the charged from Visa or is that on top of. Thanks for your help.

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                                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                                          Hi Chris,

                                                                          If you have not formally accepted the service or run any transactions, there is still a chance you have legal ground to cancel without paying the fee. You’d have to check your contract. Usually information about the initiation of the term will be in a “Term/Termination” section. If you try to cancel and they want to collect the fee, bring the BBB into it immediately. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes is enough to sway the situation in your favor.

                                                                          Even if you haven’t linked your account, they can send the unpaid fee to collections which may impact your credit.

                                                                          For the interchange fee, processors can be very tricky about this. Interchange-plus rates will usually not exceed 0.4% (more often around 0.25%). The 1.69% “standard” or “qualified” rate quote is part of a tiered system. It will only apply to certain transactions, perhaps only a small amount of your overall volume. Interchange rates are included in this fee. But since interchange rates average at 1.79%, you can see that it’s impossible for them to really only charge you 1.69% most of the time, because they would be losing money.

                                                                          My advice: Stay FAR away from Eliot Management, and try to get an interchange-plus plan with no monthly minimum. Let us know if you need more help!

                                                                          Good luck,

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                                                                            Deborah King

                                                                            Our company has been getting constant calls from a Merchant Services company called National Exchange Interchange. They insist in speaking to the owner about an important banking matter. From what little they have told us we have been doing business long enough that we have now a lower credit risk due to minimal fraud or charge backs and we now qualify for a lower rates. They will not mail us anything and don’t have a website but they are willing to send someone to our office, of course they aren’t “Selling” us anything. They are very persistent calling us on the phone. Is this real or a scam?

                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                              Tom DeSimone

                                                                              Hi Deborah,

                                                                              I’d advise you not to give them any information about your business, and in fact not to speak with them at all. Tell them you’re not interested and that you’d like to be placed on their “Do Not Call List.” If your business profile has indeed changed and you do qualify for better rates, your current processor can lower your rates. Just ask for a rate reassessment. If you’re interested in switching processors, I’d suggest any of our highest rate providers, most of which use interchange-plus as their go-to pricing model. I’ve never heard of National Exchange Interchange, and can’t find anything about them. I wouldn’t trust them.

                                                                              Good luck!

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                                                                                Hello Tom. I was doing some searching online and found Deborah’s question which is exactly the same as mine. I’m getting persistent calls from EMV merchant services. They are trying to tell me that they are not a merchant company but the actual EMV that determines the interchange level prices and that I have qualified for lower rates due to no chargebacks. They are saying that I cannot try to buy this price but that only they can give it to me and they want to send someone to show me what I can save. Sounds weird to me. Thanks for your help!

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                                                                                  Tom DeSimone

                                                                                  Hi Joy,

                                                                                  Understanding card processing rates is difficult to begin with, and when sales reps from various companies twist the truth things get even more confusing!

                                                                                  To some extent the risk your business poses to a processor could have an effect on your rates (if you had a lot of chargebacks, this would be one indication that you pose a high risk), but this is just one of many attributes that can impact your rates. Your monthly processing volume has a large impact, as does the way you process cards (be it online, over the phone, in person, etc.), among other things.

                                                                                  The person you spoke with is a sales representative from a credit card processing company. The “EMV” (aka, the credit card networks, although EMV actually represents the Europay, MasterCard and Visa chip-card standard) will not ever call a business about their processing rates. Never ever. This is a somewhat common trick among less ethical sales people from various processing companies.

                                                                                  If you are interested to see if you could in fact be paying lower rates than you are now, then definitely check out some of our top-rated providers. Otherwise, if you are happy with your current service, you should stick with them.

                                                                                  Good luck, and let us know if we can help you further.


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                                                                                    Hi Joy,

                                                                                    I had exactly, exactly the same call. The person was super pushy, wouldn’t give me any information about the company except what they told you, they didn’t have a website, etc. I found them HIGHLY suspicious and said so…the individual I was speaking with hung up.

                                                                                    I was not shopping around at all and felt targeted.

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                                                                                      harry mcgugin

                                                                                      Im in the convenient store business and branded. im getting ready to change to an unbranded gas and need to pick a great processor. currently doing 7 million a year in card transactions who and what do i need? Help!

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                                                                                        Amad Ebrahimi

                                                                                        Thank you for the question Harry, I’ll send you an email shortly so we can discuss.

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                                                                                          Paul Ringstrom

                                                                                          Have you ever reviewed United Payment Services? If so, can you send me your review.?

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                                                                                            Tom DeSimone

                                                                                            Hi Paul. We have not reviewed United Payment Services yet, so I can’t give you any definitive information. I can tell you that they are an ISO who uses First Data for their processing. I’ve also heard that they have three-year, auto-renewing contract and charge an early termination fee of about $250-400. Overall, I don’t get a great vibe from them. I’d recommend one of our higher rated processors instead. Best of luck!

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                                                                                              I work in the industry and the problem stems from business owners still stuck in the “low sticker rate” mentality. I try to explain the “effective rate” or total cost of processing but when my cost + model shows them a qualified rate of 1.80, they don’t get that a fraction of their transactions will fall under that and the real savings comes in the form of reducing the non-qualified surcharges that they will end up paying because company xyz offered them a qualified rate that’s actuall BELOW COST! Not understanding that where i can potentially keep their total cost of processing in the 2% range, they will probably end up paying over 3% on average.

                                                                                              I would suggest business owners negotiate fairly with their merchant services provider based on the interchange plus model.

                                                                                              Always review your statements!!

                                                                                              What acquirers pay is public information. Contact me to review your statement and for an explanation of charges.

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                                                                                                Christina Aguilar

                                                                                                Thank you so much for making this so easy to understand! I will be reposting on my facebook to share with my merchants!

                                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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