Credit Card Processing

NABU Fee – Network Access Brand Usage

by Ben Dwyer

If you accept Mastercard at your business, chances are you’ve seen a Network Access Brand Usage (NABU) fee on your credit card processing statement.

Mastercard charges the NABU fee on all authorized or refunded credit and signature debit Mastercard transactions. The fee is currently set at $0.0195.


Mastercard Assessment Fees

Assessment fees, such as the NABU fee, are charges incurred as part of processing a credit card. Revenue generated from the NABU fee goes directly to MasterCard, meaning neither banks nor credit card processors profit from assessment fees.

The card brands set assessment fees, subject to change.

Network Access Brand Usage (NABU) Fee

As of 2018, Mastercard sets the NABU fee at $0.0195.

MasterCard began charging the NABU fee in April of 2009. Prior to the NABU charge, MasterCard assessed an Acquirer Access Fee to transactions run through its network.

Since revenue from the NABU fee goes directly to MasterCard, most processors pass the fee to businesses at cost. However, it is possible for processors to markup the NABU fee even for businesses that are billed via more transparent interchange plus pricing. You can check your statements to see if your processor bills the NABU fee at cost or at a higher rate. CardFellow clients benefit from free assessment monitoring during statement audits.

Locating the NABU Fee

Every processor includes NABU fees in your costs, but not every processor lists them, or even refers to them by the same name. On interchange plus or tiered pricing, many processors will list NABU Fees or some variation as its own line item. In the snippets below, three different processors list the NABU fee clearly.

NABU fee

Some processors spell out “Network Access and Brand Usage Fee” while others use the NABU abbreviation. In both cases, you can see the $0.0195 fee clearly listed, along with the number of transactions to which it applied (45, 28, and 167, respectively), and the total cost of the fee for that month’s processing.

However, some processors may group together several assessment fees under one different name. In the example below, the processor rolled the NABU fee into a charge labeled the “Mastercard Access Fee.”  When looking at this statement you may assume that your processor didn’t charge the NABU fee, since the processor didn’t specifically list it. However, it’s still there – just grouped together with other fees.

Mastercard Access Fee

As you can see from the snippet, the charge for this “Access Fee” is $0.0269 – higher than the NABU rate of $0.0195. This makes it trickier to determine if you’re paying the NABU fee at cost, since you may not know what other fees are included in the “Access Fee.”

Note that only processors providing statements on tiered or interchange plus pricing list the NABU fee. If you use a “flat rate” processor (such as Square, PayPal, or Stripe) the company will not typically list the NABU fee. Instead, the company will simply list your one “rate” for processing.

As noted before, CardFellow clients can rest assured that we check your assessments as part of our audit service for your account.

How to Lower Your Costs

Processors often pass assessments to you at cost, and they’re non-negotiable. However, there are other ways to lower your overall processing costs. The most effective way is to lower the markup you pay to a processor. Businesses that try CardFellow save an average of 40% on processing by selecting a processor through our competitive processing marketplace.

It’s free to use, and you’ll see instant, fully-disclosed quotes from multiple processors, allowing you to easily and privately compare costs. Try it now!

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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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