Interchange Fees

Commercial Card Retail – Visa Interchange

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May 14, 2019

Commercial Card Retail is the first part of several Visa interchange categories that determine the fee a business will pay for accepting a corporate / business credit card in person.

These categories do not apply to commercial debit or prepaid cards, nor to “card not present” transactions. (Including online commercial card use and keyed commercial cards.)


Commercial Card Definition

Visa uses “commercial” as a catch-all term for multiple non-consumer card types. It can refer to any card issued to a commercial entity and includes business cards, purchasing cards, and corporate cards.

Some processors use “commercial” card interchangeably with business / purchasing / corporate card, but when it comes to interchange, they actually are distinct categories. That is, they’re not interchangeable terms for the purposes of interchange qualification and cost.

Visa Commercial Card Retail Rates

While Visa uses the overall term “commercial,” it still separates interchange categories by business, purchasing, and corporate cards. Business cards are further separated into tiers depending on the business’s “spend” level.

Here are the current rates for card-present, non-rewards commercial cards.

Volume RatePer-Transaction Fee
Commercial Card Retail – Corporate2.50%$0.10
Commercial Card Retail – Business, Spend Tier 12.20%$0.10
Commercial Card Retail – Business, Spend Tier 22.30%$0.10
Commercial Card Retail – Business, Spend Tier 32.40%$0.10
Commercial Card Retail – Business, Spend Tier 42.50%$0.10
Commercial Card Retail – Purchasing2.50%$0.10

These rates and fees come directly from the interchange table that Visa publishes on its website. However, pricing is subject to change. Visa typically releases new interchange tables in April or October.

Rates for Purchasing and Corporate – Travel

There are separate interchange categories for purchasing cards and commercial cards used at certain travel and entertainment businesses. Those rates are as follows:

Purchasing Card Travel Service2.65%$0.10
Corporate Card Travel Service2.65%$0.10

So, how do you know which interchange category will apply to your transactions? It depends on the card type used and other criteria. When a transaction meets requirements for a particular category, it will be charged that category’s rate.

Commercial Card Retail Interchange Qualification

Every interchange category has multiple criteria. Some is the same across the categories, while others apply only to specific categories. Let’s first look at the criteria that applies to all of the Commercial Card Retail categories noted above.

Card Present

These interchange categories and rates only apply to “card present” transactions. That is, to credit cards that you swipe (if it’s magnetic strip), dip (if it’s chip), or tap (if it’s contactless.) It does not apply to online payments or to any transactions where you manually key in the credit card information.

Commercial Credit Card

As the name implies, these interchange categories only apply to commercial credit cards. That can include business credit cards, corporate credit cards, and purchasing cards. The categories will not apply to consumer credit cards. These also don’t apply to commercial debit or prepaid cards, which have their own categories.

Meets CPS Criteria

Visa has a “program” called  Custom Payment Service (CPS.) While it’s called a service, it’s actually more a set of rules for preferred interchange rates. There are multiple different CPS programs, each with specific requirements. You can read more about the criteria in our Visa CPS article.

Does Not Pass Level II Data

This is one requirement that specifies NOT doing something rather than doing something. Specifically, you need to not provide extra info, called level II data.

While the transactions must meet CPS criteria to qualify for commercial card retail rates, you cannot pass level 2 data. Level 2 data refers to additional fields of information sent with a transaction in order to obtain level 2 interchange rates. If you provide level 2 data, you’ll instead qualify for different interchange categories, not commercial card retail.

Note that level II interchange will typically cost less for commercial transactions. That’s because it’s an “enhanced” interchange category, while commercial card retail is “target.” I’ll address this in more detail in the level 2 section later in this article.

Criteria for Purchasing and Commercial – Travel

As noted in the rate table above, there are two separate interchange categories for travel-related commercial and purchasing card transactions. The criteria for those includes:

  • Eligible Business Type
  • CPS Qualification

Eligible business types include travel and entertainment businesses in the following industries:

  • Car and truck rentals (3351, 3441, 7512, 7513)
  • Hotels (3501, 3833, 7011)
  • Passenger transport, including airlines, cruise lines, and railways (3000, 3299, 4112, 4411, 4511)
  • Restaurants (5812, 5814)
  • Travel agents (4722)

This list may not include all eligible merchant category codes. If you’re curious about whether you qualify for these rates, speak with your credit card processor.

CPS qualification refers to meeting the requirements of a Visa Custom Payment Service (CPS) program. The article linked includes descriptions of the criteria for various CPS programs. In order to receive the commercial travel rates, you’ll need to meet CPS guidelines for one of the following CPS programs: CPS / Restaurant, CPS / Car Rental (card present, card not present, or ecommerce), CPS hotel (card present, card not present, or ecommerce) or CPS Passenger transport (card present, card not present, or ecommerce.)

Retail Business – Spend Tiers

The only difference between the “Commercial Card Retail – Business” tiers is the spending limit of the business credit card. The higher the spending limit, the higher the interchange rate for that category. As of 2019, the spending limits are:

  • Tier 1: Up to $19,999.99
  • Tier 2: $20,000 – $39,999.99
  • Tier 3: $40,000 – $99,999.99
  • Tier 4: $100,000 or more

If the card issuer does not report the spending limit of the card used, it will default to tier 1.

Level II and Level III

The Commercial Card Retail categories are “target” interchange, meaning they’re where you can expect a transaction to qualify if you meet basic requirements, but don’t provide any “extra” info.

If you do provide “extra” info (called enhanced data, or level 2 / level 3 data) you can qualify for lower cost interchange categories. This is why not including level II fields is one of the ‘criteria’ for Commercial Card Retail interchange.

Level II fields include details like tax amount, customer codes, and other information that may not normally be included with a consumer card transaction.

Enhanced data and B2B transactions are a more complex form of credit card processing. If you take a lot of commercial cards, it’s worth your time to speak with experts that can help you optimize interchange and ensure you’re paying as little as possible. CardFellow members can give us a call to speak with processing experts about their B2B needs.

Not a member? It’s free, and signup only takes a minute. Become a CardFellow member.

Can commercial cards downgrade?

Yes. “Downgrades” occur when a transaction doesn’t meet requirements for “target” interchange. If you don’t meet the requirements for a commercial card retail category, it can downgrade to a more expensive category just like a consumer card.

Commercial cards only have one downgrade category, Standard. The “standard” interchange downgrade is the most expensive penalty category. While a few downgrades are normal, a lot of them indicates there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Fixing excessive downgrades will save you money.

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Ellen Cunningham

BY Ellen Cunningham

Ellen has a degree in English, which she puts to work every day researching and writing articles, processor reviews, and social media posts. She enjoys the challenge of explaining complex topics - making her a perfect fit for credit card processing - and strongly believes in CardFellow's mission of empowering business owners through education.When she's not busy following the latest industry news, Ellen can be found cycling the beautiful trails of southern New England, narrowly losing at pub quizzes, or practicing her trapeze skills in aerial circus class.

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