What is the Visa International Service Assessment fee?

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What is the Visa International Service
Assessment fee?

The Visa International Services Assessment fee is charged when a credit or debit card transaction takes place in a country that is different from the one where the card was issued.


When you make purchases with your credit card in another country, Visa adds assessments that are typically passed on to the business that is accepting the payment. These fees are non-negotiable and credit card processing companies have no control over these charges.

Why are Assessments charged?

Assessments are how the card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) make money. Some assessments are charged for every sale, while others are charged when specific circumstances are met.


For example, the Visa International Service Assessment Fee is only charged when a business accepts a foreign card. Mastercard has a similar assessment called the “Cross Border Fee”.


You can read more about Assessments and how they work on our blog post

Visa charges three assessments for International Transactions.

Visa Internation Service Assessment (ISA) 0.80% - 1.20%
This fee is charged by Visa for transactions that are processed in a country that is different from the country that the card was issued in.
International Acquirer Fee (IAF) 0.45% - 0.90%
This fee is charged by Visa for transactions that are processed in a country that is different from the country that the card was issued in.
Visa Assessment Fee (VAF) 0.13% - 0.14%
This fee is charged for all transactions that are processed with a credit or debit card branded by Visa, regardless of where the card was issued or processed.

Does my business pay these Fees?

Yes. However, they may or may not be broken out as separate line items on your monthly credit card processing statement. There are a few different pricing structures that a credit card processing company can charge your business. You can read about pricing models on our “How Does Payment Processing Work” page. The most common pricing structures are:

Interchange Plus Will Show Assessments
Subscription Based Will Show Assessments
Tiered or Flat Rate May or May Not Show
Cash Discount Will Not Show
Money Transfer between credit cards

Interchange Plus means that the costs are all passed through to a business (Interchange) and a “Plus” in the form of a percentage is added that represents the processor’s profit. This is also true for the Subscription Based pricing structure which passes all the costs (Interchange) and adds a flat fee instead of a percentage, which in most cases is the cheapest credit card processing structure you can be on.


When costs are passed through, you can see them on your processing statement, whereas with the other pricing structures, they are likely to be bundled in the Tiers or Flat Rates.


Here is an example of what the line items look like on a First Data statement from a merchant that is on an Interchange Plus pricing structure.

Monthly Processing statement showing visa international service assessment fee

Can i avoid these fees

There is no practical way to avoid International Assessments. Some businesses are much more likely to incur international assessments than others. For example, businesses that are located in areas that have a lot of tourism are likely going to process a lot more foreign credit and debit cards.

What can i do?

While you are not able to avoid International Assessments, you are able to negotiate the fees that a processor charges you for processing your transactions.

Most processors charge based on a percentage of your total sales rather than a flat fee for providing processing services. Synapse charges a flat fee instead of a percentage above cost which can result in a significant reduction in your credit card processing fees.


Get in touch with us today to see how much we can save you on our flat fee program.

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James Ritter Author Image


In 2009, James entered the electronic payments industry, discovering a landscape marred by unscrupulous sales reps exploiting small businesses. Committed to change, he educates and guides small business owners on navigating payment processing intricacies for the best rates.

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