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Unlocking Savings With Cornerstone: The Top 3 Merchant Pricing Models in 2024

Running a successful business isn’t just about making the right decision — it’s about choosing the right partners to work with. Correspondingly, choosing the right merchant service provider (MSP) is crucial if you’re looking to streamline payment processing because let’s face it, many MSPs talk a good game, but those hidden fees have a way of popping up unexpectedly.

In 2024, MSPs offer various pricing models, each with its advantages and considerations — and understanding these models is essential for making informed decisions. Let’s explore the top three merchant pricing models and how they could help your business succeed.

Are you looking for the best merchant service provider for your business? Reach out to Cornerstone today and talk to an expert.

What Are Merchant Pricing Models?

Merchant pricing models refer to the various structures and payment processing solutions that merchant service providers (MSPs) use to charge businesses for processing electronic payments. Essentially, these models determine how you’re billed for each transaction and any associated fees that may be tacked on. At the end of the day, understanding different pricing models is crucial for you to make informed decisions that align with your financial goals.

Why are Merchant Pricing Models Important?

  • Cost Control: Different pricing models affect how much a business pays for payment processing. Understanding and choosing the right model helps control costs and avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Transparency: Transparent pricing models, like interchange-plus or cost-plus, provide clarity on the actual costs associated per transaction fee. This transparency is crucial for businesses to assess the fairness of charges.
  • Scalability: Businesses evolve, and their transaction volumes may change. Choosing a pricing model that scales with the growth of the business ensures that the payment processing costs remain aligned with the company’s size.
  • Competitive Advantage: Understanding and optimizing payment processing costs can provide a competitive advantage. Businesses that choose cost-effective pricing models can allocate resources more efficiently.
  • Budgeting and Planning: Predictable pricing models, such as flat-rate or subscription-based, facilitate better budgeting and financial planning for businesses. This predictability is especially crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Top 3 Pricing Models in 2024

In 2024, merchant service providers offer many diverse pricing models to cater to the unique needs of businesses. But as a business owner, your choice often depends on factors such as transaction volume, business size, and the level of transparency desired. Understanding the following models will better empower you to make informed decisions and select an MSP that aligns with your financial goals.

1. Flat-Rate Pricing: Simplifying Transactions

Overall, flat-rate pricing is perhaps the most straightforward and transparent model where you’ll pay a fixed fee for each transaction, regardless of the card type or transaction value. This simplicity makes it a popular choice if you’re operating a small or medium-sized business.


  • Transparency: Merchants can easily understand and predict costs.
  • Simplicity: No complex calculations based on card types or transaction values.
  • Ease of Budgeting: Predictable costs make budgeting more straightforward.


  • May Not Be Cost-Effective for High-Volume Businesses: While simple, flat-rate pricing may not be the most cost-effective for businesses with high transaction volumes.

2. Interchange-Plus Pricing: Customized for Complexity

Interchange-plus pricing involves passing the actual interchange fees set by credit card networks (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) directly to the merchant, with an added markup from the MSP. This model is known for its transparency and flexibility — and it’s our preferred model here at Cornerstone.


  • Transparency: Merchants see the actual interchange fees, promoting transparency.
  • Cost-Effective for High Volumes: This can be more cost-effective for businesses with high transaction volumes.
  • Flexibility: Merchants can adapt to changes in interchange fees without major disruptions.


  • Complexity: Requires a deeper understanding of the payments ecosystem.
  • Potential for Variation: Interchange fees may vary, impacting overall costs.

3. Cash Discount Pricing: A Simple Solution for Savings

In a cash discount model, merchants can offset their merchant processing costs by passing on those costs to a customer who chooses to use a credit or debit card.


  • Improved Cash Flow: By encouraging cash payments, you can expedite cash flow and reduce reliance on credit card transactions, which often involve delays in receiving funds.
  • Cost Savings: Implementing cash discount pricing allows you to offset or eliminate credit card processing fees, resulting in significant cost savings over time.
  • Simplicity: Cash discount pricing offers a straightforward pricing structure, making it easier for both businesses and customers to understand and implement.


  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Businesses must ensure that their cash discount pricing practices comply with local laws and regulations, as some jurisdictions have restrictions or requirements regarding surcharging or offering discounts for cash payments.
  • Customer Perception: Some customers may perceive cash discount pricing negatively, viewing it as a surcharge for using credit cards — or as an inconvenience if they prefer to pay with cards.

Trust Cornerstone To Help You Compare Rates in 2024

Running a business is a lot like orchestrating a symphony — your success relies on arranging and harmonizing all elements to create a seamless performance, and this includes the partners you choose to work with.

At Cornerstone Credit Services, we use an interchange-plus pricing model. If you are interested in learning more about our pricing model and rates, give us a call! Our experts are eager to assist you in comparing rates — and in identifying the optimal merchant services provider for your business needs.

Do you need help choosing the best pricing model for your business in 2024? Contact Cornerstone today and talk to an expert.

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