Interchange Fees

CPS/Retail Credit – Visa Consumer Interchange

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April 19, 2019

CPS Retail categories are among the most common Visa interchange rates, as they apply to many basic transactions at retail stores.

This page refers to a set of interchange categories for credit cards. The information does not apply to debit or prepaid card transactions, which will incur different interchange fees.

“CPS Retail” is the first part of several different Visa credit interchange categories, each with different rates associated. It includes:

  • CPS Retail: 1.51% + 10 cents
  • CPS Small Ticket: 1.65% + 4 cents
  • CPS Retail 2 Card Present: 1.43% + 5 cents
  • CPS Retail Tier 1: 1.43% + 10 cents
  • CPS Retail Tier 2: 1.47% + 10 cents
  • CPS Retail Tier 3: 1.51% + 10 cents

These rates come directly from Visa’s published interchange table. They’re subject to change. 

What is Visa CPS?

CPS stands for Custom Payment Service. Despite the name, it’s more of a fee program than a service, and is often referred to as the Visa CPS program. Essentially, the CPS program sets rules for transactions and rates you’ll be charged for following those rules. The benefit to following those rules is that you’ll pay lower CPS interchange rates. If you don’t follow the CPS rules, you won’t qualify for CPS interchange fees, and will pay more. The rules are often called “qualifications.”

Qualifications for CPS Retail

There are multiple qualifications for these interchange categories. There are general criteria that apply to all six categories, and specific criteria that apply to single categories. For general criteria, the transactions must be:

Card Present

Each of these categories refer to “card-present” transactions, meaning transactions where you swipe, dip, or “tap” a customer’s card to accept payment. These categories do not apply to any other payment acceptance method, including when a customer hands you a card but you key in the information.

Basic Consumer Cards

These categories apply to consumer credit cards (not commercial / purchasing cards) that don’t earn rewards. Those “3% cash back on purchases” or “double miles on groceries” cards? CPS retail does not apply.

Settled Within One Day

If, for some reason, you don’t settle the transaction within one day of the original transaction date, it will not qualify. Fortunately, many credit card machines automatically ‘batch’ your transactions for settlement at the end of the day. You’ll only need to worry about this one if you manually batch transactions.

Settled for the Same Amount Authorized

With exceptions, the amount of the settled transaction must match the authorization amount. The exceptions are for businesses that typically accept gratuities or otherwise have legitimate business reasons that the final amount might be different than the authorized amount. That includes bars / taverns, taxis, beauty salons / barber shops, spas, and amusement parks.

Accepted at an Eligible Retail Business

Most retailers are eligible for CPS Retail interchange. Non-retail businesses, including restaurants, hotels, car rental agencies, and travel services (including travel agents and cruises) are not eligible. However, those businesses have their own categories, which you can read about here in the CardFellow blog.

Downgrades

What happens if the criteria above aren’t met? Your transaction will “downgrade” to a more expensive category. A few downgrades is normal, but if a lot of your transactions are downgrading, it indicates a problem with your card acceptance process. Moreover, it’s costing you money.

Learn how to spot credit card processing downgrades.

CPS Retail Interchange Rates

If you meet the criteria, here’s what you can expect to pay at the interchange level.

Volume RatePer-Transaction Fee
CPS Retail1.51%$0.10
CPS Small Ticket1.65%$0.04
CPS Retail 2 Card Present1.43%$0.05
CPS Retail Tier 11.43%$0.10
CPS Retail Tier 21.47%$0.10
CPS Retail Tier 31.51%$0.10

In addition to the general criteria noted above, some of the interchange categories in have specific criteria, as follows. We’ve also included known abbreviations or aliases in italics under the main category name. Your processor may use other names.

CPS Retail

– There are no additional criteria. –

CPS Small Ticket

SMALL TKT
You may see this category abbreviated on statements.

Only transactions that are $15 or less can qualify for CPS Small Ticket interchange.

CPS Retail 2 Card Present

RTL2 CP
You may see this category abbreviated and noted as “CP” for “card present.”

Only certain types of businesses are eligible. Those businesses include schools, child care services, insurance companies, and fuel companies. It specifically includes the following merchant category codes:

  • 8211
  • 8220
  • 8299
  • 5983
  • 6300

If your business does not have one of those MCCs, you won’t qualify for this category.

CPS Retail Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3

RTL TR1, TR2, TR3
This category will often include abbreviations and the tier number on processing statements.

These three categories apply specifically to high volume businesses. Each tier (also sometimes called “threshold”) has a minimum number of transactions and a minimum volume to qualify. The minimums are annual amounts.

Annual Minimum TransactionsAnnual Minimum Volume
Tier 192.7 million$5.7 billion
Tier 256.5 million$3.2 billion
Tier 314.8 million$820 million

If you don’t meet the minimums for number of transactions and volume, you will not qualify for tier 1, 2, or 3 interchange rates.

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Ben Dwyer

BY Ben Dwyer

Ben Dwyer began his career in the processing industry in 2003 on the sales floor for a Connecticut‐based processor. As he learned more about the inner‐workings of the industry, rampant unethical practices, and lack of assistance available to businesses, he cut ties with his employer and started a blog where he could post accurate information about credit card processing. As the blog gained in popularity, Ben began directly assisting merchants in their search for a processor. Ben believes in empowering businesses by providing access to fair, competitive pricing, accurate information, and continued support. His dedication to transparency and education has made CardFellow a staunch small business advocate in the credit card processing industry.

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