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he average credit card processing fee is between 1.5%-3.5%. For business owners and the self-employed, those fees can quickly add up!

But for customers, who are increasingly relying on contactless payments (especially post-pandemic), cash is no longer king. With this trend unlikely to shift, many businesses are seeking ways to decrease credit card processing fees. 

Keep reading to learn:

  • How you can lower credit card processing fees
  • The types of credit card processing fees
  • How much popular payment processors charge in fees

Five ways to lower your credit card processing fees

Negotiate with credit card processors

Credit card processing fees are not always set in stone. If your fees have been increasing, it may be time to have a conversation with your processor’s representative to negotiate lower rates. Before you start negotiating, consider how you can leverage your transaction volume and loyalty. Processing companies may be more willing to adjust their fees if your business processes a large number of transactions or you’ve been a loyal customer—or both!  

The best way to stay abreast of any changes in processing fees is to regularly monitor and review your statements. This will help you spot opportunities for negotiation. And if negotiation isn’t possible, the sooner you know you need to switch to a processor that better suits your needs, the better.

Pass credit card processing fees onto customers

One way to offset credit card processing fees is to apply surcharges to purchases, effectively passing the fees you would have paid onto your customers. Surcharges are a percentage of the total cost of a purchase and have become increasingly common in the past 10 years. Generally speaking: 

  • Surcharges are usually 1-4% of a purchase, with 4% typically being the max you can charge
  • Surcharges can’t be applied to debit cards or gift cards
  • Surcharges and other fees should be disclosed before a customer completes their purchase
  • Surcharges should also be clearly listed on receipts


It’s important to note that rules for surcharges vary by credit card network and by state. You should consult local legislation to ensure you remain compliant. If you determine you can legally pass fees onto customers, you can lower the overall amount you’re spending on processing fees.

Lower fees by reducing the risk of fraud

Reducing the risk of fraud has the added benefit of helping you avoid increased credit card processing fees. There are two key ways you can do this: 

  1. Encourage in-person purchases. The more you can swipe or tap physical cards instead of manually keying in numbers, the better. Certain card companies charge higher fees when card numbers are keyed in because it increases the risk of fraud. (Later in the article, we break down processing fees by payment method). Plus, cards with EMV chips are more difficult to dispute, protecting you against chargebacks. 
  2. Use security checks to avoid fraud. Reduce interchange fees and chargebacks by verifying your customer’s card. This is often done through a security code check or billing zip code check. You can take fraud protection a step further by using a purpose-built address verification system, or AVS. Certain card companies, like Visa, may even offer lower interchange fees to incentivize businesses to use an AVS. 

Make sure your account and terminal are set up correctly

Ensuring your account and payment terminal are set up correctly is a simple way to ensure you’re not incurring any avoidable processing fees. First, make sure that you enter your business information correctly when you set up your processor account for the first time. Different business types can mean different fees! (If you’ve already set up your account, now’s a good time to make sure all the information is correct). 

After ensuring your account information is accurate, consider updating your processing frequency. Processing transactions daily (instead of every few days or weekly) can lower your fees and rates.

Offer ACH payments alongside credit card payments

Unlike credit card payments, ACH payments don’t incur interchange fees. That’s because these payments are transfers that happen directly between banks. (Keep in mind that ACH payments may still incur payment processing fees, even if there aren’t interchange fees). Additionally, depending on your business offering, certain customers may prefer ACH payments over paying by card. 

What are credit card processing fees?

An important part of lowering credit card fees is understanding how they are structured. Credit card processing fees paid on a transaction (referred to as merchant discount rates) are divided among the financial institutions that facilitate the payments. They include the following fees:

Interchange fees

Interchange fees are paid directly to the card-issuing company in order for a business to accept a customer’s payment. Interchange fees can vary based on the company and transaction method. For example, in-person purchases usually incur lower interchange fees.

Assessment fees

When combined, assessment fees plus interchange fees are sometimes called “swipe fees” because they account for the total cost a business incurs to accept payment from a given card. These fees are based on monthly sales–not per transaction–and go directly to card networks.

Payment processor fees

These fees are paid directly to a business’s payment processor – for example, Stripe, Square, and PayPal. Different payment processors have different fee structures.

Average fees by credit card network

 Network  Average interchange fees  Average assessment fees
 Visa  1.15% + $0.05 to 2.40% + $0.10  0.14%
 Mastercard  1.15% + $0.05 to 2.50% + $0.10  0.1375% (transactions under $1,000); 0.01% (transactions $1,000 or more)
 Discover  1.35% + $0.05 to 2.40% + $0.10  0.13%
 American Express  1.43% + $0.10 to 3.30% + $0.10  0.13%

*Information accurate as of Mar 12, 2023

Fees for popular payment processing companies

There are several different ways that payment processors can collect fees.  Some payment processors, like PayPal, Square, and Stripe, offer flat-rate fees that are inclusive of interchange fees. Others may collect fees with a demarcated transaction fee on top of interchange fees.

There are a variety of factors that you should consider when deciding which is the best payment processor for you, including your monthly sales and transaction volume.

 Payment processor  In-person transactions  Online & other transactions  Monthly fee
 PayPal  2.99% + $0.49  3.49% + $0.49  $0
 Square  2.6% + $0.10  - 2.9% + $0.30
 - 3.5% + $0.30 ((for manually entered cards)
 - 1% with a minimum of $1 per transaction for ACH transfers
 Stripe  2.9% + $0.30  - 3.4% + $0.30 (for manually entered cards)
 - 0.8% with a cap of $5 for ACH transfers
 Helcim  1.86% + $0.08, on average  2.4% + $0.25, on average  $0
 Clover  2.3% + $0.10 to 2.6% + $0.10  3.5% + $0.10  $14.95 to $74.95
 Shopify  2.4% to 5%  $0.05 to 2.9% + $0.30  $5 to $299
 Payline  Base costs + 0.20% + $0.10  Base costs + 0.40% + $0.20  $10 to $20
 Stax  Base costs + $0.08  Base costs + $0.15  $99 to $199
 Payment Depot  Base costs + $0  Base costs + $0  $59 to $99

*Information accurate as of Mar 12, 2023

Takeaways for lowering your card processing fees

While it may seem complicated to keep track of and even lower credit card processing fees, it’s doable! Keep our top 5 tips in mind, and make sure to monitor your payment processor’s fee structure, especially if your business is growing. At some point, you may find that switching payment processors is the best way to lower credit card processing costs.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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