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Visa International Service Assessment Fees

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Are you a business owner who accepts credit card payments from international customers? If so, you may have noticed additional fees, known as Visa International Service Assessment fees (ISA fees), on your statements.

These fees can quickly add up and impact your bottom line. Let us explore what ISA fees are, how they are calculated, and who is responsible for paying them.

What is the visa international service assessment?

digital bank card

The Visa International Service Assessment (ISA) fee is an international service fee that is charged by Visa to acquirers (payment processors and merchant services providers) for every Visa transaction that involves an internationally issued Visa card.

This fee is a standard assessment fee charged by Visa to cover the costs of processing international transactions, including foreign transaction fees, cross-border fees, and currency exchange costs.

The ISA fee applies to all types of Visa transactions, including credit card payments and debit card payments. It is usually passed on to the merchant by the acquirer as a separate line item on the monthly merchant account statement.

Why did I get a visa international service assessment?

If you recently made an international transaction (SWIFT) using your credit card, you may have been charged a Visa International Service Assessment (ISA) fee. This fee is imposed by Visa on merchants who accept Visa cards for transactions that involve an international service.

The fee is usually a percentage of the transaction amount and is intended to cover the cost of Visa’s international services, including processing fees and cross-border fees.

As a customer, you may see this fee listed on your credit card processing statement or monthly merchant account statement as an additional cost that you were required to pay.

Keep in mind that this fee applies to all internationally issued Visa cards, and other major card brands may have similar fees under the same circumstances.

How much is the visa international service assessment?

If you are wondering how much the Visa International Service Assessment (ISA) fee is, it’s important to know that the percentage charged and unique names for ISA fees can vary depending on the bank.

However, we do know that Visa charges two fees per foreign transaction: the ISA fee and the International Acquirer Fee (IAF)

The Visa ISA fee can vary between 0.80% and 1.20% and applies to transactions made in the United States that are paid for with a card issued outside of the United States. This fee varies depending on the currency in which the transaction is settled.

If the customer chooses to settle in U.S. dollars, the fee stays at 0.80%. However, if the customer chooses to transact in a foreign currency, Visa adds another 0.40% to the fee.

On the other hand, the International Acquirer Fee is a flat fee of 0.45% and applies under the same circumstances as the ISA fee.

What is the difference between ISA and IAF?

The Visa ISA fee and the IAF fee are both fees charged by Visa for processing international transactions, but they are different fees.

The ISA fee is charged to the acquiring bank that processes the payment when a cardholder makes a purchase in a foreign currency.

On the other hand, the IAF fee is charged to the merchant’s bank when a customer makes a purchase with a card issued outside of the country where the merchant is located.

Who is responsible for these fees?

As a business owner, you are ultimately responsible for paying the ISA and IAF fees, as well as other credit card processing fees. These fees are charged by the card member associations and are an unavoidable part of accepting credit card payments.

While you may wish to pass these costs onto your customers, it is generally not allowed by the cardmember associations.

Typically, your processor will be charged these fees by the customer’s card issuer and then pass them on to you. However, the exact payment arrangement can depend on your agreement with your processor.

To ensure that your business remains profitable despite these fees, it’s important to calculate your effective rate, which takes into account the average cost you incur for each transaction.

Even if some countries ban adding surcharges to card payments, it is permissible to incorporate the cost of credit card processing in your prices.

To determine your effective rate, divide the total amount of fees you pay each month by your monthly sales and multiply by 100. This will give you an idea of how much you are paying in fees as a percentage of your sales.

Remember that the processing fee can appear anywhere on your merchant statement, so make sure to review it carefully to ensure you understand all the fees you are being charged.

The pricing structure for international transactions

person is viewing the price structure

These are three major arrangements for payment pricing:

Interchange plus

Interchange Plus is a payment arrangement where the merchant pays a fixed markup on top of the actual cost of processing each transaction, which is the interchange fee. This pricing model is considered transparent because it allows merchants to see the actual cost of each transaction and the markup they are paying.

In an interchange plus pricing setup, assessment fees such as the Visa ISA fee are typically listed separately on the merchant’s statement. This means that you will be able to see the total amount charged for each transaction, including any assessment fees.

This can help calculate your effective rate and understand the true cost of credit card processing for your business.

Moving to an interchange-plus payment pricing setup can be a good idea if you want greater transparency and control over your payment processing costs. However, it’s better to compare pricing from different payment processors to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.

Some payment processors may charge higher markups on top of interchange fees or add additional fees that can significantly impact your bottom line.

Flat rate

If you choose a flat-rate payment pricing model for processing your credit card transactions, the costs of the Visa ISA fee and other processing fees may not be shown separately on your statement. Instead, these costs will be included in the total flat fee that you pay for transaction processing.

It’s important to note that just because the costs are not disclosed doesn’t mean that you are not paying for them. These costs are often factored into the flat fee you are charged. Therefore, it’s advisable to ask your processor for additional information about the fees you are being charged, especially if you believe that they are high.

Understanding the fees you are being charged is critical to ensuring that your business remains profitable. By asking your processor for further information about the fees included in your flat rate payment pricing, you can make sure that you are not paying more than necessary for transaction processing.


If you are on a tiered payment pricing plan, the assessment fees might not be immediately obvious on your statement. Instead, your processor may charge you a higher transaction fee based on the costs associated with conducting foreign transactions.

You can still find the fees listed in your statement’s assessment section, but it might require some careful searching through each line item. It’s important to note that even if the fees are not listed individually, you are still responsible for paying them. To ensure that you are aware of all the fees you are being charged, it’s a good idea to regularly review your statement and ask your processor for further information if needed.

Can you reduce the ISA fees?

The International Service Assessment fee is a standard fee charged by all payment processors and cannot be reduced. However, there are other ways to reduce your payment processing costs. You can consider shifting to an interchange plus pricing system, which calculates fees for each transaction separately, or you can negotiate rates with your processor within the existing processing fees structure.

If your business heavily relies on international transactions, opening a branch in a country where you frequently conduct business can also be a viable option. This could help you avoid paying the ISA fee for those transactions altogether. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the cost-benefit analysis of opening a branch should be thoroughly evaluated before making a decision.


Visa International Service Assessment (ISA) fees are a necessary and standard part of accepting credit card payments for businesses that conduct international transactions. While the exact fees charged may vary by bank and pricing arrangement, it is important for businesses to be aware of these fees and factor them into their pricing and profit margins.

By understanding the different pricing arrangements available and negotiating with payment processors, businesses may be able to minimize their processing costs and optimize their profitability. Ultimately, the key to managing ISA fees is to stay informed and proactive in your payment processing strategy.

Gintaras Baltusevicius

Gintaras is a fintech enthusiast with extensive experience working with startups in various industries, including cybersecurity, SaaS, and aviation. He has a passion for exploring new technologies and innovations in the financial industry and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others.

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