The best international airline program
The international airline program (or best airline rewards program international travel) is ascertain when a transaction is assessed for
interchange, the location of the Acquirer, Merchant and Issuer are taken into account. We're not talking about the best airline rewards program here.
If the Acquirer is located in a different country to the Issuer, and especially if they are in different regions, the Acquirer pays a higher interchange fee, and could offer air travellers the best airline miles or mileage program.
In the case of airline ticket transactions not airline programs, the difference between the higher International interchange fee and the lower domestic fee can be significant.
However, for airline transactions covered by the International Airline Program (IAP), the location of the Acquirer is ignored and only the Merchant and Issuer locations are considered.
As a result, the location of the Airline's Acquirer is no longer relevant to the cost of interchange. This could explain why many choices of best airline loyalty program.
A passenger holding a Card issued in the United States (US) goes to a British airline's ticket desk at San Francisco airport and asks to buy a ticket.
Assuming that the British airline uses a single Acquirer based in the United Kindom (UK), this means the Acquirer is in the UK, the Cardholder is US and the Merchant location is US.
Without the international airline program, this would have qualified for an International interchange fee. With the IAP, the Acquirer location is ignored.
As the Issuer and Merchant are both US, this is now considered a US Domestic Transaction for interchange.
The same principle is applied when purchasing tickets in a Card Absent Environment, for example, when a Cardholder buys a ticket via the internet.
Note that the participation in the international airline program is mandatory for Acquirers who are acquiring international airlines.
An international airline is an airline that sells tickets directly in its own name in two or more countries, or operates scheduled flights between two or more countries, or both.