Interchange Fee

The term interchange fee denotes a fee charged to merchant acquirers by card issuers when card transactions (primarily credit card transactions) are made.  

Merchant acquirers, in turn, pass on interchange fees to merchants which accept credit card payments along with other fees which collectively make up the merchant service charge (MSC).

Interchange fees are set by payment networks like Visa and Mastercard. Pressure by merchants and the Swiss Federal Competition Commission has resulted in the interchange fees charged in Switzerland being lowered over recent years.

While the average interchange fees charged by card issuers was a high 1.67% in 2005, it decreased to 1.29% by 2009, 0.99% by 2012, and to 0.7% from August 1, 2015. Since August 1, 2017, the average interchange fee for Swiss credit card transactions is 0.44%.

However, interchange fees may be higher or lower depending on the kind of transaction, the merchant’s industry sector and the technology used in the transaction. Visa and Mastercard publish their interchange fees on their websites, but not in a clearly understandable format.

Airlines generally pay a 0.5% interchange fee for transactions in Switzerland with Swiss credit cards. In all other industry sectors, the interchange fee charged depends on the technology used for the transaction. For example, merchants generally pay a 0.4% interchange fee when they accept NFC (contactless) payments from Swiss credit cards.

Important: As a general rule, Swiss merchants pay much higher interchange fees when they accept payments with foreign credit cards.

By comparison: In EU countries, interchange fees cannot exceed 0.3% for credit cards and 0.2% for debit cards.

In Switzerland, no interchange fees are charged for transactions made with Swiss Maestro debit cards.

More on this topic:
Credit card comparison
Merchant discount rate explained
 

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