Interchange Fees

Visa International Card Not Present Interchange

by Ben Dwyer

The international card not present interchange categories determine the fee a U.S.-based business will pay to accept an international Visa card online or by keying in card details.

For the purposes of interchange, “international” cards are credit and debit cards issued by a bank located outside of the United States. Visa also sometimes refers to the cards and interchange as “interregional” instead of international.

These categories apply to both international credit and debit cards in a “card not present” (CNP) transaction. They do not apply to “card present” transactions, which have their own interchange categories.

What counts as a “card not present” transaction?

Any transaction where you don’t physically run a card through a machine is a “card not present” transaction. This includes online purchases where the cardholder enters their card information at checkout or into an invoice payment system, keying in card details (such as from phone transactions), and keeping cards “on file” for recurring payments, such as subscriptions.

For keyed transactions, the fact that you key in the card details is what matters, not whether the card is physically present. That is, even if the customer is physically at your location and hands you the card, if you don’t run it through a machine, it will be considered card-not-present.

Visa International CNP Interchange Rates

There are several interchange rates that apply to Visa international card not present transactions. Currently, there are 4 for credit and 2 for debit.

The following rates come from Visa’s published interchange table and are accurate at the time of posting. However, rates are subject to change at Visa’s discretion.

Volume Rate Per-Transaction Fee
International Secure E-Commerce Classic / Gold 1.44% $0.00
International Secure E-Commerce Signature / Premium 1.80% $0.00
International Secure E-Commerce Infinite 1.97% $0.00
International Commercial Card 2.00% $0.00
Interregional Regulated Debit 0.05% $0.22

The card type is the determining factor between the Secure E-commerce categories, with rewards cards and super premium cards costing more than non-rewards international cards.

Note that it’s not a typo that none of the international CNP credit categories have a per-transaction fee. Only debit incurs a cents-based interchange fee.

What is “regulated” debit?

“Regulated” debit cards are cards issued by banks that have more than $10 billion in assets. Smaller banks and credit unions issue debit cards that will be considered “unregulated cards” if the issuer doesn’t meet the $10 billion threshold.

For the purposes of international debit interchange, Visa only lists categories for regulated debit. Regulated debit cards have an interchange cap, and they cannot cost more than the cap by law. Currently, the interchange cap for regulated debit is 0.05% + 22 cents per transaction. That is the most you will see charged at interchange for regulated debit.

However, keep in mind that processors can add their markup on top of the interchange cost. Ultimately, you’ll pay more than the 0.05% + 22 cents, but the interchange portion of the total fee cannot exceed that rate.

Visa International Card Not Present Interchange Requirements

In order for transactions to route to these interchange categories, they need to meet particular requirements. Currently, those requirements include:

  • Passing 1 valid electronic authorization
  • Matching authorization data and settlement data, including MCC
  • An ecommerce indicator of “5”
  • POS entry mode of “1”

In order to qualify for Secure E-Commerce interchange, the transaction must include an ecommerce indicator of “5.” Ecommerce indicators provide information on whether 3D Secure advanced anti-fraud tools were used. A “5” indicates that the cardholder and the cardholder’s bank are 3D Secure (Verified by Visa) participants, and that the 3D Secure authentication was successful.

The POS entry mode indicates how a card was processed. “1” indicates that the card details were entered manually / key entered, as opposed to swiped through a machine.

What happens if transactions don’t meet requirements?

In the event that a transaction doesn’t meet the requirements noted above, it will “downgrade” to a more expensive downgrade interchange category. Downgrades are often avoidable, but in the case of Secure E-commerce interchange, they may be more common if you’re not currently using Verified by Visa.

If you accept a lot of international cards in a card-not-present environment (such as through an ecommerce store) it may be worth your time to look into implementing Verified by Visa.

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