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5 Hidden Fees Your Merchant Account Is Charging You by Brian Armstrong
When first starting a business, you'll most likely be processing credit cards and will need a merchant account. Most business owners understand only a few of the fees associated with getting started. This article will explain a few of the other fees that most merchants would qualify as "hidden" fees simply because they aren't usually explained by the merchant account representative and the business owner doesn't know to ask. So,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], hopefully this information will not only help you be more informed, but save you money as well.
The monthly minimum is usually a $25 monthly fee based on the discount rate. What this means is that if you have this monthly minimum fee on your account, you'll usually either pay $25 or the total discount fees, whichever is higher. This means that if you have an average discount rate of 2. 5%, you'll need to process $1000 per month gross volume in order to have this fee "covered". If you process less than this,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], your effective rate instead of being 2. 5% will be higher. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but if you are an internet business and it is taking you a little longer to get ramped up, this may be a fee worth trying to eliminate.
Some processors will waive this monthly minimum. So if you are an internet business, ask about waiving this fee so that you don't have an "extra" $25 on top of other monthly fees in the first couple of months as you ramp up your business. One other thing to check with the minimum is whether or not it is calculated into an early termination fee. For instance, if you have a company that bases the early termination fee on your monthly fee multiplied by the duration of your contract, this $25 minimum can be very costly.
When transactions are submitted, they are usually "batched" together and submitted on a daily basis. With internet accounts,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], the gateway account usually does this automatically every day. Retail accounts usually submit their batch as well, sometimes this is programmed in, other times this can be done manually by the merchant. The batch header fee is a fee that is tacked onto each "batch" and is usually around $. 25 per batch. This can be viewed as a daily fee, i. e. every day that you process transactions, you'll have this $. 25. If you process every day, you'd have $7. 50 monthly worth of daily processing or "batch header" fees. You can sometimes get this fee waived, but don't save transactions to batch weekly as the rate for transactions that have been authorized and captured more than 24 or 48 hours later will be much higher than the simple batch header fee.
There is a fee called AVS which stands for Address Verification System. This is the fee applied to internet transactions when the billing address is used in conjunction with the card number and expiration date. This is actually a valuable fee because for the $. 05 AVS, your rate (assuming an internet account) is kept lower at the qualified or mid qualified rate instead of the higher non qualified rate. When I personally price accounts, the AVS is included in the per transaction fee so that it isn't a "hidden" fee and I always explain this break-down so that merchants know to ask when comparing prices.
The annual fee is one of those that is sometimes not discussed and overlooked by many merchants. The instances where this fee makes sense is when the merchant account provider has lowered the rates drastically to where the rate is what's called "interchange plus" pricing. You should discuss this with your merchant account representative if you want to find out more about this pricing. At that time, your pricing is so low that an annual fee makes more sense. Just make sure that you know about it if you're going to be charged the annual fee. Like every component of pricing, this fee should be disclosed on the application.
Not unlike any other service business, merchant account providers typically have an early termination fee. This fee is usually around $200 to $300 and is usually not waived. The things you want to check on is whether or not your merchant account has one of these early termination fees and check on the length of the contract. When you go out of business or quit processing,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], there are still some risks for the merchant account provider because if at any point after you close your account, one of your customers requests their money back for a transaction that was completed prior to your account closing, it falls on the merchant account provider to cover this cost. The early termination fee is used for this purpose. You may be able to negotiate this fee, but typically this is a fee that all accounts have specifically for this reason.
Merchant accounts can be very expensive if you don't know the right questions to ask. They can also simply provide a valuable service for a fair price. This author hopes you'll find these pricing components useful when determining the overall cost of your merchant account and empower you to negotiate a fair price.
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