Mastercard’s Universal Cardholder Authentication Field (UCAF) interchange categories determine the interchange fees a business pays if it uses Mastercard SecureCode.
SecureCode is Mastercard’s “3D Secure” technology solution. It’s designed to help prevent fraud and unauthorized purchases by adding a layer of customer authentication. Unfortunately, 3D Secure is not very common in the United States. However, properly implementing it can benefit your business not only in terms of reduced fraud, but also by lowering your interchange costs.
In this article, we’ll explain SecureCode a little further and take a look at the UCAF interchange categories for which you can qualify when using it.
- What does UCAF mean for Mastercard?
- What is Mastercard SecureCode?
- A Quick Refresher on Interchange
- Merchant UCAF vs. Full UCAF
- UCAF Interchange Rates
- UCAF Interchange Requirements
- Statement Abbreviations
What does UCAF mean for Mastercard?
UCAF stands for Universal Cardholder Authentication Field. It refers to information collected in online transactions, specifically relating to Mastercard’s “SecureCode” program.
What is Mastercard SecureCode?
Mastercard SecureCode is an anti-fraud tool for online purchases. In the past, it required the cardholder to enter a special passcode when making an online purchase. However, some companies now offer a more seamless implementation that is less likely to increase cart abandonment.
Correct use of SecureCode on your website can make you eligible for Merchant UCAF or Full UCAF interchange categories.
You can also review the Mastercard SecureCode manual.
A Quick Refresher on Interchange
Interchange fees are the bulk of your total cost to process credit cards. There are hundreds of interchange categories, each with rates associated and a set of rules for eligibility. These fees are non-negotiable, but a transaction can sometimes “qualify” for a lower cost interchange category if it meets additional requirements.
That’s the case with Merchant UCAF and Full UCAF. Using 3D Secure is an additional requirement for eligibility.
Merchant UCAF vs. Full UCAF
Mastercard breaks down UCAF into two distinctions: full and merchant. The difference lies in whether both parties in the transaction (your business and the cardholder) are SecureCode enabled. If only your business is set up for SecureCode, you can qualify for Merchant UCAF. That means that you (the merchant) utilize SecureCode but the cardholder does not. If both your business and the cardholder use SecureCode, you can qualify for Full UCAF.
UCAF Interchange Rates
There are UCAF interchange categories for every type of consumer card (debit, prepaid, non-rewards credit, and rewards credit) in a card-not-present (online) payment situation. UCAF does not apply to commercial card transactions of any kind, nor to consumer “card present” transactions.
Below, I’ve split the categories by card type. All rates come from Mastercard’s published interchange table.
UCAF Credit Card Rates
There are full and merchant UCAF rates for both non-rewards (“core”) credit cards and rewards credit cards. The categories listed as “enhanced” or “world” are rewards cares. The current UCAF interchange rates for consumer credit cards are as follows:
|Volume Rate||Per-Transaction Fee|
|Merchant UCAF – Enhanced||1.83%||$0.10|
|Merchant UCAF – World||1.87%||$0.10|
|Merchant UCAF – World High Value||2.30%||$0.10|
|Merchant UCAF – World Elite||2.30%||$0.10|
|Full UCAF – Enhanced||1.93%||$0.10|
|Full UCAF – World||1.97%||$0.10|
|Full UCAF – World High Value||2.40%||$0.10|
|Full UCAF – World Elite||2.40%||$0.10|
UCAF Debit and Prepaid Card Rates
The UCAF rates are the same whether the cardholder uses a debit card or a prepaid card. The current fees are as follows.
|Volume Rate||Per-Transaction Fee|
Rates subject to change at Mastercard’s discretion.
UCAF Interchange Requirements
In order to qualify for UCAF interchange categories, transactions must meet certain requirements. Failing to meet all requirements means that the transaction will instead route to other card-not-present interchange categories.
Some requirements are the same across both the merchant and full UCAF categories. Those requirements include:
- Key entered transactions
- Settlement date within 2 days of the transaction date
- Obtaining and passing 1 valid electronic authorization
Additionally, Full and Merchant each have a requirement regarding the SecureCode authentication codes.
Full UCAF Criteria
For the Full UCAF interchange category, both the cardholder and you business must be enrolled in the SecureCode program, and the transaction must be authenticated by the cardholder with their secure code.
The UCAF indicator must be “2.”
Merchant UCAF Criteria
For the Merchant UCAF interchange category, your business must be enrolled in the SecureCode program. (The cardholder is not.) The transaction must include a UCAF indicator of “1.”
According to CyberSource, an indicator of “1” means that SecureCode / UCAF is supported on your website. An indicator of “2” means that SecureCode / UCAF is supported on your site and that UCAF data was populated, indicating a successful SecureCode transaction.
On statements that show interchange detail, you’ll see the UCAF categories listed if any of your transactions qualified for those categories. However, not all processors list interchange detail. Specifically, processors that utilize “flat rate” processing typically exclude the interchange categories from your statement. Flat rate processors include Stripe, Square, PayPal, Toast, and others.
That said, even processors that do include interchange may label the categories differently. However, there are some common abbreviations, which include:
- MCUSFULUCF (Mastercard US Full UCAF)
- MCUSMRUCAF (Mastercard US Merchant UCAF)
- ENHFULUCAF (Enhanced Full UCAF)
- MCWUSFULUC (Mastercard World US Full UCAF)
- HVFULLUCAF (High Value Full UCAF)
- MWEUSFULUC (Mastercard World Elite US Full UCAF)
- ENH MRUCAF (Enhanced Merchant UCAF)
- MCWUSMRUCF (Mastercard World US Merchant UCAF)
- HV MR UCAF (High Value Merchant UCAF)
- MWEUSMRUCF (Mastercard World Elite US Merchant UCAF)
Debit and prepaid abbreviations include:
- MCUSFULUCD (for “Mastercard US full UCAF debit”)
- MCUSMRUCFD (for “Mastercard US merchant UCAF debit”)
- FULLUCAFPP (for “full UCAF prepaid”)
- M UCAF PP (for “merchant UCAF prepaid”)
Again, this list is not exhaustive.