Average Credit Card Processing Fees and Costs in America in 2024

By Anna Davies · March 15, 2024 · 9 minute read

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Average Credit Card Processing Fees and Costs in America in 2024

Average credit card processing fees can range anywhere from 1.5% to 3.5%. While a few percentage points may seem low, these fees can add up and impact your business’ bottom line.

Whether you’re a merchant who runs your own business or someone with a side hustle, if you accept credit card payments, fees are likely going to eat into your gross profit. Read on to learn more about credit card processing fees and how you can reduce them.

What Is a Credit Card Processing Fee?

A credit card processing fee describes all of the fees charged to accept credit cards as a form of payment. These, which are incurred by merchants that accept credit card payments, can include interchange fees, payment processor fees, and assessment fees.

Processing fees can run over 3% of a total transaction. Rates can vary based on the size and location of a business, as well as the types of transactions and cards that are accepted.

Generally, businesses bake credit card transaction fees into their pricing in the form of credit card merchant fees. However, some businesses may provide a discount if a customer pays with cash. Others may set a minimum payment amount they’ll accept by card. Understanding how credit cards work can give insight into why some businesses don’t accept credit card payments.

Types of Credit Card Processing Fees and Costs

Credit card processing fees actually combine several fees. When talking about credit card processing fees, merchants are generally talking about the following:

•   Interchange fees

•   Assessment fees

•   Payment processor fees

Some of these fees, like payment processor fees, can vary depending on the credit card processor a merchant chooses. Others, like interchange fees, are set by the credit card companies and depend on the cards used.

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Interchange Fees

Interchange fees are collected by credit card issuers from the merchant when a credit card or debit card is used. Interchange rates vary depending on:

•   The type of card used

•   The type of business

•   The amount of the transaction.

Interchange rates can also vary depending on whether the payment was made online or in store.

Generally, interchange rates are presented as a percentage of the sale, plus a flat fee. For example:

•   If Hailey buys $50 worth of groceries with XYZ card, the grocer would have a set interchange rate based on XYZ card, which may be slightly different than ABC card.

•   XYZ card may have a 1.15% interchange rate, plus a flat fee of $0.30. That would mean that, from Hailey’s transaction, the store would owe $0.88 as an interchange fee.

Assessment Fees

An assessment fee is levied by the credit card network (the brand name on the card a cardholder uses, such as MasterCard or American Express). This fee may vary depending on whether the card is a credit card or debit card, as well as on the volume of transactions a business makes. There also may be larger international fees.

Unlike the interchange fee, an assessment fee is standard across transactions. It is also generally lower in amount than an interchange fee.

Card Processor Fees

Payment processor fees go to the payment processor, which facilitates the transaction. The card processor is the intermediary that communicates between the card issuer and the merchant bank. It may also include the point of sale (POS) system and provide the devices to take credit card payments.

The merchant does have some control over the amount of these fees. Credit card processing fees vary depending on the payment model selected. Costs could include per-transaction fees, a monthly service fee, and equipment rental fees.

Average Card Processing Fees in 2024

As mentioned above, card processing fees in 2024 depend on several factors, including whether payments are primarily processed in person or online. That said, average credit card processing fee ranges are provided below for the major credit card networks:

Average Credit Card Processing Fees By Network

Network Processing Fee Range
Visa 1.4% – 2.5% interchange; 0.14% assessment fees
Mastercard 1.5% – 2.6% interchange; 0.1375% assessment fees
Discover 1.55% – 2.5% interchange; 0.14% assessment fees
American Express 2.3% – 3.5% interchange; 0.165% assessment fees

In addition, there can typically be a per-use charge (say, 10 to 22 cents) which varies depending on, say, whether the transaction was in-person or online or over the phone.

Note that American Express is considered a bit differently than other credit card companies. Unlike the other three credit card companies in the table above, American Express is a closed-loop network. This means that it is not backed by another financial institution, which gives it more control over its practices and charges. American Express calls the fees it charges “discount fees,” which operate similarly to interchange fees.

If you do have an American Express card, this wouldn’t have any impact on things like your credit card limit or credit card minimum payment, but it may affect where your card is accepted due to generally higher fees.

Recommended: What Is a Credit Card Minimum Payment?

Factors That Determine Interchange Fees

Adding to merchant confusion, interchange fees vary depending not only on the merchant, but also depending on what sort of credit card is used in a transaction. Interchange fees are usually between 1% and 3.5% of the overall sale, but the actual percentage varies on a host of factors that are discussed below.

Credit Card Type

Credit card type plays a role in determining the amount of the interchange fee — even if all cards fall under the same brand. In general, debit cards have lower interchange rates than credit cards, which are unsecured debt.

Part of how a rate is assigned is based on risk level. For a merchant bank, a debit card can be less risky because the money is already accounted for within your account. (This is also why the process of how to apply for a credit card is more involved than it is for a debit card.)

Merchant Category Code

Shopping at a supermarket? Then you may be paying a different interchange rate than you would at the hardware store or dry cleaners. Every merchant has a category code, and those merchants within the same category will have the same fees.

Method of Processing

How a payment is processed will also affect the rate of interchange fees. Card companies assess the risk of the transaction, considering the potential for fraud, chargebacks, and other things that may go awry.

For this reason, they may assign different interchange rates based on whether a purchase was completed online, in person, or even whether the purchase was made via swipe or tapping technology.


Each credit card network sets its own fees based on the type of merchant. While the majority of the fee goes to the bank that issued your card, a small amount will go to the card network itself. This money will then be used to fund credit card rewards, perks, and protections offered by the card — all key parts of what a credit card is.

Pricing Models for Processing Fees

There are various pricing models for processing fees, and merchants can assess which one works best for them based on how they do business. There are three common models to consider: flat rate pricing, interchange plus pricing, and tiered pricing. Here’s a closer look:

Flat Rate Pricing

Like the name suggests, flat rate pricing provides a fixed rate for all transactions, which is inclusive of processing fees and interchange fees. This can be convenient, as it makes it easy to predict costs. However, it also could mean that your business is overpaying for transactions that have lower interchange rates, such as purchases made with a debit card.

Interchange Plus Pricing

Interchange plus pricing provides a detailed analysis of fees by breaking out interchange fees, assessment fees, and processor fees. This can be great for businesses looking for a level of detail into the fees they’re paying, and it can also help ensure that you’re not overpaying fees. However, some businesses may find this level of detail overwhelming.

Tiered Pricing

With tiered pricing, prices for interchange rates are separated into one of three tiers: qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified. Tiering is dependent on how payment occurs (for example, in person or online) as well as how the card processing occurs (a payment may be downgraded based on how the card is processed).

While statements can be easier to read with this model, there’s less transparency than with interchange plus pricing. Additionally, because merchants can’t separate interchange fees from processing fees, it can be challenging to see a fee breakdown and understand the costs at a greater level of specificity.

Other Credit Card Processing Fees and Costs

In addition to the credit card processing fees outlined above, you also may pay a monthly subscription fee for processor use. This is independent of the number of transactions and may include customer service, POS equipment, and more. Sometimes, a higher subscription fee may result in a lower fee per payment.

You may also pay a fee for the initial setup when you sign up for a credit card processing company. What’s more, you could owe fees for if a customer disputes a credit card charge, in the instance of any chargebacks, and for non-sufficient funds.

How Often Do Payment Networks Update Their Interchange Fees?

Interchange fees are typically updated twice a year, though some might only do so annually or could refresh their fees more often.

Typically, rates have been rising by a fraction of a percentage point for payments made by credit card. This may not sound like a lot, but this can add up significantly — especially as more consumers are using cards over cash. Just think if your annual percentage rate (APR) on your credit card was to inch up; it’s a similar situation.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

The Takeaway

Credit card processing fees typically amount to between 1.5% and 3.% of a total transaction. Understanding credit card processing fees isn’t only helpful for entrepreneurs and small business owners. It can also help consumers understand why there might be an additional fee charged for certain payments made with cards. It’s all part of being a knowledgeable cardholder and using credit responsibly.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


What is the typical fee for credit card processing?

The typical fee for credit card processing in 2024 is 1.5% to 3.5% for transactions. The rate is dependent on the type of transaction (in general, debit cards cost less to process than credit cards) and the processing system the merchant chooses. The actual percentage per swipe varies based on a host of factors.

Can I avoid credit card processing fees?

There are no ways to entirely avoid credit card processing fees, but there may be ways to make fees more manageable. One common way for businesses to manage credit card processing fees is to bake them into pricing and to offer cash discounts. Another way to potentially avoid credit card processing fees is to accept ACH payment methods for services.

Can the type of credit card determine processing fees?

Yes, the type of credit card is one factor that determines processing fees. For example, different categories of cards, such as reward cards, can have different fees than other cards, like debit cards.

Photo credit: iStock/tdub303

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