Merchant Account Fees – Limit Unnecessary Fees

Make no mistake merchant accounts can broaden the horizons of your business, but if you are not careful the fees can eat you alive.  Your account is practically an agreement between the bank and you the merchant, knowing the rules of the game will help you to avoid unnecessary fees for your transaction processing.

There are certain merchant account fees which you should be familiar with before you proceed. Here are some of the fees you can expect to encounter, and more importantly work to limit.

Additionally we will cover some of the hidden fees that consumers get surprised by so you know what to avoid with your chosen credit card processing service.

Application Fee

An Application fee is the first charge you will be asked to pay when opening a merchant account. This fee is charged to you upon having your merchant account set up and can be called a startup or provisioning fee by some companies.. Application fees are usually high, but the maintenance fee following the setup fee is lower.  A company may charge you upfront, or weight the backend processing fees, rest assured, they will work in their fees in one manner or another, don’t be fooled by a claim of low up front costs only to be surprised with much higher back end charges.

Transaction Fees

Transaction fees are charges allotted for every transaction made. Fees are usually done and charged for every transaction, regardless if the transaction made are declined or approved. Fees usually depend on the mode of transaction made (either keyed or swiped), and are usually valued at a higher rate if the transaction is done via wireless system.

Internet Gateway Fee

Internet credit card transaction processing requires a secure internet service in order to have a smooth and protected transaction. You can expect to be charged a monthly gateway fee for using the processors secured gateway for transmission of charge data.

Monthly Service Fee and Annual Fee

The monthly service fee is a recurring monthly financial obligation account owners must give to the merchant account host. This is for the monthly dues, service and maintenance the service host will provide for you. Such services and maintenance include customer support and monthly statements. Apart from the monthly fee, there is a separate annual fee that can also be charged by some credit card processing firms — as the name suggests, on an annual basis. Some programs offer waived monthly service fees if you meet a certain transaction volume.  Some merchant account providers do not.

Reprogram Fee

If you have a full service integration agreement with your account provider, you can expect reprogram fees for any updates or corrections of the integration system if it is not otherwise specified and being paid for in your contract.

Chargeback Fee

Credit card purchases can be fraudulent, customers can be dissatisfied with your product, or some simply change their mind about paying. Whatever the case, merchants are faced with a troublesome situation in which customers deny the transactions made on their card resulting in a chargeback. Chargeback fees are standard, and in severe high volume situations your overall fee rates could increase if you your status becomes ‘high risk’ for your merchant account provider.

Cancellation Fee

Cancellation or termination fees are unfortunately standard amongst business merchant account services. A cancellation fee must be stated in your contract, and is typically a fixed amound that will be assessed in the case that you cancel your services before a seasoning date.  These cancellation fees essentially lock you in for the specified period if you wish to avoid being charged.

Discount Rate Fees

The discount rate is the markup fee for services rendered by the bank provider.  Discount fees can be assessed on a per transaction basis, charged by monthly volume or assessed based on the type of transaction, whether point of sale card swipe, internet, phone processed transactions or other payment input. The number of pricing models employed in the industry is too high for this fee guide but suffice it to say, determine clearly what your discount rate charges will be.

Hidden Fees

Hidden charges amount to unexpected merchant account fees that you may or may not have been informed of properly at the time of signing with your provider. Hidden fees can also be classified as junk fees and typically are comprised of over-limit fees, security fees, audit fees, and file fees that can be encountered and are frustrating charges that can surprise you if you did not read the contract fully.

Though noone likes paying fees, most of these charges are essential and must be paid for, in order to guarantee a good, smooth, secure, and continuous service.  There is no sense in saving a dollar here and there only to risk the veritable existence of your business.

The key is in knowing what fees to expect with your merchant account and when comparing providers work to limit your exposure to unnecessary charges.

In this manner, you can be assured that your business transaction will process continuously and confidently reassured that you aren’t paying more than you must for your merchant account services.