The short answer to this question is: “it depends.” The processing fees for credit card transactions vary according to a number of factors. Among them are the type of merchant you are (both business and personal), the method by which you process your payments, and the type of credit card used in your transactions. Also taken into consideration when calculating your processing fee is your company’s average sale amount and the type of card it accepts (i.e., standard, premium, commercial, etc.).

The following section outlines some of these factors in greater detail.

Merchant Category Code (MCC) Codes for Businesses

The Merchant Category Codes (or MCCs) are used by credit card processing companies to determine if your business falls within a certain type of industry. For example, MCC 7299 is for purchasing or refinance brokers, while business that deal in vintage or antique merchandise are categorized under MCC 7399. You can find the list of available types here.

How Credit Card Processing Commissions Work

While the list of MCC codes may seem extensive, many businesses fit into more than one category. That’s where processing fees based on your industry classification become complicated. For example, if your business is categorized as both a retail establishment and a travel agency (MCC 4541 and 7372 respectively), you’ll be charged credit card processing fees based on both types of industry practices.

And if you don’t know the MCC code that applies to your business, it can be difficult to determine how much you’ll pay in processing fees. That’s why credit card processing companies typically use an automated tool that assigns your company with a default MCC code based on some basic information that you provide.

If you’re unhappy with the credit card processing fee that results from your MCC code, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC works with businesses and credit card processors to ensure fair pricing for all types of merchants. Keep in mind, however, that if your business does not qualify for a lower fee under current law, or if you cannot provide sufficient evidence that your particular business type deserves to be reclassified into a different category, the FTC may not be able to help.

Overhead Costs and Credit Card Processing Fees

Many small business owners assume that they qualify for the lowest possible credit card processing fees due to their low volume of business. However, the credit card processing cost for small businesses is often based on more than just total sales volume.

For example, if your company has a high number of transactions per location, you may gain access to special “shared” or “resale” rates, which are typically given only to larger organizations that process a large volume of credit card transactions monthly. Another method used to determine processing costs is the interchange rate, which is set by the acquiring bank and varies depending on your business type and industry.

The average minimum fee paid by US-based small businesses for accepting credit cards was 2.69 percent in 2013, according to a survey released by in June 2013. That number was down from 3.37 percent the previous year, which is great news for merchants – assuming they are actually paying average processing rates.

Credit Card Processing Fees for Online Merchants

The credit card processing fees for online transactions are different than those charged to brick-and-mortar businesses. In addition to the standard credit card processing fees associated with each transaction, online merchants must also pay a fee for every payment attempt made by customers. And if customers cancel their orders prior to being charged, there is no guarantee that they will not try again later – eventually resulting in a chargeback.

The average cost for accepting a Visa or MasterCard charge online runs 2.2 percent plus $0.30 per transaction, according to American Express charges an average of 3.5 percent plus $0.05 for each online sale, while Discover charges 3 percent plus $0 in fees per internet transaction.

Credit card processing fees can make or break your small business, and it is important that you gain a firm understanding of the fees and charges associated with your merchant account. With this knowledge, you can avoid hidden fees and negotiate an agreement that works for both parties.