Explaining the Acquirer Processor Fee in Credit Card Processing

May 24, 2020 / Posted in Credit Cards

Have you decided to start accepting Visa credit cards? Introducing cashless payment options can bring all kinds of benefits to merchants. However, before you begin accepting cards as a form of payment, you should be familiar with what you pay for this service. Among others, an acquirer processor fee will appear on your monthly statement. But would you even be able to spot it there? And what is it, to start with? We want to provide you with some answers.

At first glance, it all seems rather simple. The cardholder hands over the card, merchants swipe it through the point of sale terminal, and that’s it. But if we look a bit deeper into credit card processing, there’s quite a lot going on during those couple of seconds needed to complete the transaction. Among other things, various credit card processing fees are charged for the service provided, including the acquirer processor fee. So, let’s dig a little deeper into it.

What Are Acquirer Processor Fees and How They Affect Your Small Business?

Acquirer Processor Fee (APF), also called Visa Authorisation Processing Fee, is a form of the assessment fee charged by Visa for enabling US merchants to accept their cards at the point of sale (POS), be it a physical store or online. It was introduced in July 2009 for all authorizations acquired in the United States, no matter the location of the cardholder’ it’s enough that your business is in the US. The amount charged for it is a flat $0.0195 per authorization for credit cards.

You should also know that the APF is different for credit and debit cards. While most charges are being increased, the APF for debit card transactions was actually reduced from $0.0195 per authorization to $0.0155 per authorization. Another thing to consider when it comes to debit cards is that APF does not apply to PIN debit transactions, but only to signature-based payment.

Each Payment Card Network Charges Different Amount for Fees: Visa vs. MasterCard

Depending on the network (association), the assessment fees are likely to bear different names. Another difference is the amount of money charged.

Visa’s APF is often considered the equivalent of MasterCard’s Network Access and Brand Usage (NABU), implemented in April 2009. However, it should be noted that the amount charged by these two networks is not exactly the same. MasterCard’s NABU amounts to $0.0185, and it is charged for all US-based sales and credit and refund transactions. Another difference is that, unlike MasterCard, Visa will charge its APF regardless of whether the transaction is actually realized.

How to Locate Acquirer Processor Fee on Your Monthly Statement

In addition to understanding how credit card processing works, merchants need to understand the processing statement and know how to analyze it.

When it comes to APF, the first thing to know is that different processors will probably refer to this fee by different names and abbreviations. Some might call it ACQR Processor Fee, while others may refer to it as Network Access Fee.

In addition to that, its location on the statement is also likely to differ depending on your processor and the agreed-upon pricing model. For instance, some will list it under Visa assessment fees, while others may list it under other charges, in which case it is more difficult to spot. You should also pay attention to whether credit and debit APF are separated, as the pricing is different.

When Analyzing the Statement, Beware of Padded Fees

The amount paid for APF goes directly to Visa, and your processor is not entitled to take any part of it. APF belongs to a group of so-called wholesale processing costs paid for enabling and maintaining the entire system of cashless payments.

The safest way to go to be sure you get full transparency and pay the lowest costs possible is to choose an interchange-plus pricing model. Look for a processor that passes assessment fees to you at cost to be safe from padding.

If you’re just starting your small business and you still have trouble finding your way through your monthly statement, you can turn to experts for help. Among other services, professional merchant service providers can analyze your statement for you and determine if there are any irregularities you should be concerned about.

What Is the Best Way to Reduce Visa Credit Card Processing Costs

Even though assessment fees are among the lowest that merchants face when introducing cashless payment, you may still want to reduce the costs of accepting Visa cards. Since assessment fees, along with interchange charges are always the same, there’s not much you can do about them, but you can choose your processor markup. So, let’s see how this affects the costs.

How Your Business Can Benefit From a Competitive Markup

While APF, together with other assessments and interchange fees, is part of the wholesale cost, your processor’s markup is what you pay over the “wholesale” price. The good news is that this is something that you can negotiate. So, be sure you get a competitive markup – the lower the markup, the better for you.

Remember that you can also always introduce a convenience fee as a way to ensure some profit with all the credit card transaction fees setting you back.


As you can see, APF can be easy to keep track of and spot on your statement if you know where to look. Be sure you also follow Visa’s announcements to be on the safe side in case they increase APF.

For any help you may need, do not hesitate to contact a professional to give you a hand. A professional merchant service provider can answer all your questions and help clear any doubts you might have. If not for a variety of services, you can always contact them for a piece of advice on how to grow your small business.


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