Interchange is the pre-set processing rates charged by Visa, MasterCard, or other credit card networks. All credit card transactions have interchange fees. Whether the card is swiped or keyed in, there are always rates associated with it. Interchange fees exists to cover the costs of technology systems used to process transactions and security measures to reduce fraud.
Interchange rates are the same for every merchant because they are set by the credit card companies themselves. Twice per year the major card brands (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover) announce their rates and any changes along with the various categories that credit card transactions can fall under. You can view the published rates anytime:
|Visa USA interchange fees (pdf)||Visa Canada interchange fees (pdf)|
|MasterCard USA interchange fees (pdf)||MasterCard Canada interchange fees (pdf)|
There are well over 500 interchange rates for different types of transactions that can make things confusing. But if you have a good understanding of interchange rates, you can likely save yourself a bit of money.
When you pay for your payment processing, the interchange rates are bundled within them and they are generally the biggest component of your processing fees.