Merchant Services – Deep Dark Secrets

Have you wondered if the MasterCard Fees and Visa Fees were genuine or were they made up? Have you ever wondered what were the deep dark secrets concerning Merchant Services Costs? What about why there was so much fine print in that Merchant Services Processor’s contract. Why is there an early termination fee?

The rate costs come from MasterCard Management Services and Visa Management Services and are generally updated twice per year. The rates that you are charged is based on their individual MasterCard rate sheet and Visa rate sheet. Now you must add to that rate the percentage your processor tacks on for their commission. Did your sales representative ask how much they might add to your fee for their commission? If you were asked that question, you have a representative that has your best interest at heart.

The cost for each type of charge card that has been issued to your customers from the banks (called the card issuer) has a definite rate associated with each of those cards. However, you might not see the individual costs for each card, but obviously you are being charged for what ever card is being swiped through your terminal. If your merchant services statement does not itemize every card you scan through your terminal, then you will never know what is happening with your account.

For example you might not know if the card is a generic MasterCard or a MasterCard World card. The same is for Visa. You could be swiping a generic Visa or a Visa Rewards card. The World Card and the Reward Card have higher rates that you have to pay. The rate is shown on the Merchant Services Cost Sheet so you should see this itemized on your merchant services statement.

The fee charge (actual cost) to scan the card (called the transaction) is usually around $.10 per transaction. That $.10 is added to the rate you are being charged. One exception to the $.10 transaction fee would be small ticket. Small ticket is associated with restaurants or fast food purchases and even coffee shops. Generally the transaction fee for restaurants i.e. small ticket transactions is about $.04 per transaction. The lower transaction fee is allowable due to the high volume and low average ticket of the transaction.  high risk merchant account

One of the deep dark secrets on your Merchant Services statement is the cost to batch your terminal at the end of the day. Batching is when you move your sales from the credit card terminal to your bank account through the system. Many merchant services contracts are written with a $.20- $.25 batch fee. The batch fee is a “mystery junk fee” that is not required. I hope you aren’t paying it.

Caution – there is another deep dark secret. There is another fee that can become very costly to merchants. The fee is called the merchant early termination fee. The merchant early termination fee is usually in the small print. Many times the early termination fee is explained away by sales reps with the idea that it is just like the cell phone companies. They will say the fee is in line with all other companies and they must charge it too.

Sounds good doesn’t it? This fee is used to deter you from canceling your service with the processor (called the acquirer). You will usually see this gem tucked away in the very small print toward the end of your contract. The merchant services early termination fee is another “mystery junk fee” used to tie the merchant from jumping from processor to processor.

My question is if the processor is looking out for the merchant, why would there be a need to jump from merchant services processor to merchant services processor. If a lower rate was available, why wouldn’t the rep take the necessary steps to lower the rate of their customers? Did you know in 2008 there were a few rates that went down on the merchant services cost sheet? Were you notified that your merchant services rate was being lowered? Could you have jumped to that processor with the lower rate without an early termination fee? Buyer Beware!

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