Mastercard allows issuance of two distinct card types – Consumer and Business. Depending on your customer demographics, most card-present or “retail” merchants will receive predominantly Consumer cards. Read on to see how different cards qualify for different interchange rates.
Mastercard credit cards are issued to customers not by Mastercard, but by an issuing bank. These credit cards will have varying terms/rewards, as every bank is different. The below guide is a handy reference to see how cards are typically classified. Note that issuing banks have a lot of “leeway” in how they classify a card. So, some cards may have similar benefit structures, yet will fall into different categories. What’s important to keep in mind is that you have NO control over this aspect of card acceptance. You can’t tell what type of card you’re accepting just by looking at it, and most customers won’t even know their card type if you ask them. This process is designed to be “invisible” and in the background.
Mastercard has incredibly low interchange rates for merchants who are classified as a Utility. As these payments are considered “low risk” from a processing perspective, the interchange rates reflect that. You’ll see that many of the rates have no percentage fee, and just a flat, per-transaction fee.
Standard rates are the worst rates that you can receive on Mastercard transactions. Typically, you’ll receive Standard rates when your sales don’t meet any of the basic qualifications. This can include not submitting AVS data, not settling your sales on time, or failing to submit otherwise required data, based on your merchant type. You want to avoid this rate classification at all costs!
Mastercard has a special rate category specifically designed for nonprofits. Not all nonprofits will qualify – but if you’re classified with the MCC of 8398, or as a “Charity or Social Service” organization, then you’ll qualify for far-reduced interchange rates.
Since not all industries accept credit cards, Mastercard tries to incentivize “newer” industries with lower, more advantageous interchange rates. These are called Emerging Market interchange rates. The only qualifying business types are Schools, Government Offices, Insurance-sales, Utilities, and Toll-Roads.
To qualify for the below Mastercard supermarket rates, your business must be classified as a grocery/supermarket, with an MCC of 5411. Below are the basic qualifications, plus you’ll see each type of card that’s eligible for supermarket rates, along with the associated potential downgrade:
To qualify for the below restaurant rates, merchants must be classified as a restaurant or quick-service merchant (MCC of 5812 or 5814). Quick-serve merchants will only be eligible for debit sales within this rate classification. Read on for the basic qualifications, plus you’ll see each type of card that’s eligible for restaurant rates, along with the associated potential downgrade.
Because lodging and auto-rental merchants have unique needs, there’s a special rate category designed for them. These merchants take extended authorizations – meaning the card may be authorized weeks before the sale is finalized. Similarly, final amounts of the sale are often different from the original authorization. For “regular” merchants, this would result in downgraded transactions. But lodging/auto-rental merchants can follow specific rules to access low rates.
The “Merit I” category is for key-entry and E-Commerce Mastercard sales that meet include AVS and are settled within 1-2 days. Barring a few exceptions, most merchants are able to receive these interchange rates.