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As you shop around for credit card processing services, you may quickly realize that this is not the most honest industry.

Common questions arise like: "Why do so few providers show their rates on their website?" or "Why are there so many rate structures?" or "Why can't I just get a straight answer?"

To help merchants avoid the pitfalls of the credit card processing industry, we've compiled a list of the top five things to watch out for when shopping for credit card processing services in the USA.

#1   Teaser Qualified / Non-Qualified Rates

Processors advertising rates "as low as" 1.00% are pretty common these days. Unfortunately, since the payment processing industry has no advertising standards, what they don't disclose are all the assessment fees, mid-qualified and non-qualified charges tacked on top.

Ever see flights advertised for "$99" each way? Ever pay "$99" for those flights by the time you reached the checkout? Unlike airlines, however, most processors bury these hidden fees in the fine print and go unnoticed until it's too late. 

#2   PCI Compliance Fees

Many processors have recently started charging annual, quarterly, monthly PCI fees. Some will call these "Breach Coverage" or "Security" fees. Unlike most providers, our PCI program is already included in our monthly fee.

#3   Annual Fees

Instead of being upfront about the monthly cost of your service, many processors will bury some of their costs through annual fees. These fees usually range between $50-$200 and can be hard to spot, since processors only have to sneak these by you once a year. Most times they come in the form of an "IRS Reconciliation", "PCI Compliance" or simply "Annual Membership" fee.

#4   Monthly Minimums

Nothing says "We don't value small businesses" like penalizing them for not processing enough transactions. Unfortunately, most small merchants soon realize that their low monthly fee is actually quite high.

Processors place "monthly minimums" on the total fees generated from Visa/Mastercard transactions, meaning that if you don't process enough payments, you are paying for them anyways. To add insult to injury, some processors even call these "low achiever fees".

#5   Contract Cancelation Fees

Most processors have cancelation fees or early termination fees. Instead of providing a good service at a good rate to keep your business, they implement long-term contracts to try and deter merchants from switching to a more affordable provider.