Merchant Category Code (MCC)

Simple definition
A code that tells what type of business a merchant does.
Expanded definition
A four-digit code assigned to a business to classify its primary services or products. Examples include 5411 for 'Grocery Stores' or 5812 for 'Eating Places.'


When consumers make purchases, how do banks identify the type of merchant involved in transactions? One key tool is the merchant category code system. Understanding how MCCs categorize merchants provides clarity into the world of payments.

What are Merchant Category Codes?

Merchant category codes (MCC) are 4-digit codes assigned to businesses by payment processors and card networks. MCCs classify the type of goods or services sold by merchants.

Some common MCCs include:

  • Grocery stores - 5411
  • Airlines - 3000
  • Clothing stores - 5691
  • Restaurants - 5812
  • Doctor’s offices - 8011

MCCs allow efficient identification during transaction processing and reporting.

Uses of MCCs

MCCs optimize operations through:

  • Tailored card processing rates based on merchant type
  • Streamlined review by flagging risky or regulated MCCs
  • Enhanced fraud monitoring using expected purchase patterns
  • Simplified accounting with standardized merchant classifications
  • Customized rewards programs targeting frequent MCCs
  • Analytics revealing consumer spending tendencies

By decoding business identities and sales patterns, MCCs bring order to complex payment data.

The Bottom Line

MCCs classify the commercial landscape into categorical codes. In payments, where fast decisions are critical, MCCs enable informed transaction handling based on merchant profiles. Their numeric shorthand summarizes business activities conveniently.