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June 24, 2020
by David Goodale

What are credit card assessment fees or card brand fees?

(Slightly edited from video transcript for greater readability)

Key Takeaways

Assessment fees
Assessment fees are a small fee charged by the card brands on every transaction. This is where Visa and Mastercard make their money.
Don't let them be marked up
Don't let your payment processor charge more than the actual true Assessment fee cost from Visa and Mastercard.
Importance of assessment fees
Understanding assessment fees is critical to calculating the total cost of credit card processing.
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Hello, David here at Today I have a tip of the day and it is:

Do not pay marked up card brand fees or assessment fees when processing credit cards.

In order for this to make any sense you probably have to understand what the card brand fee is (which is also sometimes called the assessment fee). This is a small fee that all merchants incur when processing credit card transactions. The fee comes directly from the card brands (it is where Visa or Mastercard themselves actually make their money).

The actual cost of the card brand fee is very small. At the time of recording this the Visa card brand fee is 0.09% and the Mastercard brand fee is 0.08%. What can cause confusion is that they sometimes show up on a processing statement as either a "card brand fee", or in other cases an "assessment fee". However, regardless of the term used to describe the fee, so long as you understand what it is, and how much it costs, you can make sure that you are not being taken advantage of from a pricing perspective.

These are small fees but that doesn't mean they can't be marked up. There are a lot of really good and really honest payment processors out there, but there are others that take advantage of merchants who don't know better. So you should look at your processing statement and if you're paying significantly more than 0.10% (just to make it easy) for your card brand fee or your assessment fee you should talk to your processor, or better or you should consider switching.

This is one of the few ways that merchants can actually pay a higher rate than they're expecting when they get an interchange plus quote. I don't want to make this video too long. I have other content online about what interchange plus pricing, is and pretty much every merchant should be on it especially if you're processing higher volumes of transactions. Having marked up assessment fees are one of the few ways to be on interchange plus pricing and still not get a good value. You have to make sure the card brand fee (assessment fee) is not marked up.


This was a very quick little tidbit of advice about assessment fees. Assessments are a very small fee that all merchants incur. It's important to make sure that your payment processor is not marking them up any further than the actual cost as set by Visa and Mastercard.

If you are looking for a new payment processor, or would just generally like to see if your existing merchant services provider is treating you right and would like a quote, reach out to us .

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David Goodale About the Author

My name is David Goodale, CEO at Merchant I launched our business in 2001 and have over 20 years of expertise in the field of online payments. If you have a payments related question or project, and especially if it relates to multi-currency or international e-commerce don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help with an honest opinion, and enjoy chatting with folks from interesting businesses.

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