Last week, Visa released and posted their April 2011 Interchange Rates on their WEBSITE. If you take a spin on over there, you will find that theirs are quite a bit simpler than the MasterCard Interchange Rate sheets. And, you’ll find it prominently displayed on the main page as “Visa USA Interchange Reimbursement Fees” . Visa has a total of 7 pages (in comparison to 144 pages for MasterCard ) and is laid out in a very simple and straightforward manner so it’s easy to take a comparative look at the current and October 2010 rates. That is precisely what I have done for you and am providing for you here.
When looking at each line item, I discovered that there have been no changes in rates or fees, either up or down (like that ever happens, anyway) across the board. There is, however, one slight change located on page 7 of the report that will likely not affect any reading this. It has to do with Cash Disbursement Transactions (this is Interchange payable from the card issuer back to the Acquirer). And, furthermore it is for merchants in Tier II categories processing more than 26.5 million transactions annually.
As I mentioned earlier, the MasterCard report is much more lengthy and I haven’t had an opportunity to do a comparative analysis and don’t really anticipate doing so. Actually, I have much better things to do with my time like, being available for my family, golfing, putzing in the yard and around the house…well, you get the picture. You can check out my personal WEBSITE if you like, to see what I mean. So, here’s my simple advice to you with this knowledge that you’re acquiring here. The first thing you want to do is take a look back at a few months worth of your current processing statements. Typically, on page 1 of your statement there will be a “Important Information” or “Notification” section. That is where there will be details of upcoming rate change information or other details they feel are important to transmit to you. Unfortunately, I have discovered that very few merchants ever really pay attention to this section, much less than all the rates and fees they are paying. Nonetheless, take a look back to see if there are any “alerts” posted there.
Now, knowing that there were no increases in the Visa Interchange rates and, at this point, we’re uncertain if there were any posted to the MasterCard Interchange rates, you’ll see there really is not much justification for “rate increases” to be passed on to you. If, however, by going over the past couple months worth of statements, or even looking at your most recent March statement, you see that your rates have indeed been increased….get some answers. Call your rep (if you can even find them) or Customer Service and ask for a complete explanation. Tell them that you have been to the Visa and MasterCard sites yourself and want to know how they justify increases in your costs. If you don’t feel satisfied with the answers you are getting, start looking for a new relationship with a different provider.
One more thing I’d recommend that you do. As I mentioned above, “usually” notices of impending rate increases, will show up in that front page section on your statement. However, sometimes (and believe me, I’ve seen this happen), it’s not so “in your face”. So, the best thing you can do is a month to month comparison in the Rates section of your statement. Keep in mind that pretty much all merchant agreements state, somewhere in the fine print, that they have the right to adjust rates as they deem appropriate and justifiable. Since Visa and MasterCard usually make their adjustments to interchange, in April and October of each year, this is typically when processors will make their move, whether there were actual increases or not. So, all I’m saying is, just be alert and pay attention since, after all, it is your bottom-line. As always, if you have any questions or comments, just shoot them my way and thanks for reading.