What are all these fees?
You did your research, you found a great processing rate and a credit card processor who appears to really care about your business, but then you get your first statement from your processor and you can't help but wonder what all the different fees are for. You want to make sure your business isn't being overcharged or billed for something in error, but it's difficult to determine what all the fees are and why they're being applied to your account.
Outside of the processing rate, there are several per occurrence fees that might have been applied to your transactions. Understanding what each fee on your statement is, and when different fees apply can help you reconcile your statement each month.
Here are some of the different processor fees that you might see on your statement.
If you want to give customers from other countries the option to pay for their purchases from your store in their local currency, instead of the currency that is local to your business, then your processor will likely charge a Multi-currency Processing fee for these transactions.
Level 3 Data Processing
Each credit card transaction requires certain pieces of data to be transmitted from your business to the acquiring bank. Level 3 Data Processing requires more data to be sent to the acquiring bank than Level 1 and Level 2 Data and therefore requires an additional fee. Level 3 Data processing is typically reserved for merchants accepting Corporate, Purchasing, or Government credit cards because the extra data, in the form of more detailed invoice data and itemized lists, helps with more accurate expense tracking.
Account Change Fees
Some payment processors may require an additional fee for significant changes to account details such as addresses, banking information, or pertinent business information. The fee covers the administrative cost associated with making the change.
DBA stands for “doing business as” and if you need to change the name of the company that you are doing business as, then there may be an associated administrative fee to make the change on your payment processing account.
PCI Non-Compliance Fee
If your business is following the data security standards set out in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), then you would be considered PCI Compliant. The requirements for compliance will vary based on your business, and if your business does not meet the PCI DSS requirements, then a PCI non-compliance fee may be charged by your processor.
PCI Compliance Fee
PCI Compliance is mandated by the major card brands (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, etc.) as part of accepting credit cards, and all service providers, payment processors, and merchants are expected to be compliant. Your processor may charge a PCI compliance fee for any services they might offer to help your business stay complaint, usually in the way of customer education and assistance in becoming and staying compliant. Other than the obvious benefit of minimizing your exposure to risk and fraud, being compliant has additional benefits such as being eligible for extended data breach insurance coverage.
If a customer files a dispute about a transaction to get the funds returned to their account, it is called a chargeback. The card brand will charge a fee to process the chargeback that is passed on to the merchant.
For more information on chargebacks and how to prevent them check out our article.
Terminal and Equipment Fees
Depending on your merchant provider and your personal preferences, you might be renting or leasing the equipment needed for your payment processing which would likely incur a monthly fee.
To help cover the costs of deployment, there is also usually a “swap” fee if you need to change out your equipment for any reason. Some processors may also charge a small per occurrence fee for American merchants for using equipment with a dial-up connection. If you own your equipment, then you still might need to pay a monthly fee for data or wireless services if they are required.
To see how we feel about renting vs. leasing your equipment check out The Hardware Debate – Why You Should Never Lease Equipment.
POS Software Fees
Depending on your Point-of-Sale system setup, you may be using a mobile or desktop application to access additional features or run an online store or virtual terminal. To access this software and the added functionality, you will most likely be required to pay a monthly or annual fee.
Similar to your personal bank accounts, if your processor is unable to withdraw the required amount from your account or a payment bounces, then you will need to pay the NSF fee for the unfulfilled payment.
Cancellation or Early Termination Fees
Many processors require their merchants to sign lengthy contracts that include cancellation or early termination fees to discourage merchants from shopping around for other processors.
These are two fees that we strongly disagree with here at Helcim. All Helcim merchants are month to month with no cancellation fees.
If your business processes a credit card that was issued outside of the borders of the country that your store is registered in, then you will likely have a cross-border fee added on to the regular processing fees that the transaction would be subjected to.
AVS (Address Verification Service) is a tool that will allow you to verify if the registered address linked to a credit card matches the person who is claiming to use the card. There may be a per-transaction fee charged by a payment processor or acquirer to you as the merchant if you use this service.
If you have signed up for processing through a gateway-only provider, then your monthly statement may include a monthly gateway fee. This fee is to cover the cost of receiving and processing the transaction for the processor.
Voice Authorization Fees
If you need to use a telephone dial-up service to obtain a transaction authorization, you may be subject to a voice authorization fee. Voice authorization is intended to protect your business and your customers from fraud, but it will be your business that pays for the service. Using voice authorization is quite rare, and most merchants will never need to use it.
These are some of the most common fees that may apply to merchant accounts. It’s important to review your statement each month so you’re aware of what you’re being charged. If you notice a fee that seems new, or you’re not sure what it’s for, then it’s best to contact your payment processor for clarification.
Helcim lists our processing and per occurrence fees on our pricing page, so it’s easy to review what the different fees are before you sign up.