Understand Your Statement
Processing statements are often confusing and hard to understand. To help you navigate yours, we've developed a fictional monthly statement. It's based on a dozen different processors' statements and illustrates some common deceptions that can increase your per-sale cost enormously with no added value to you.
- What types of cards are these?
By not identifying the card type, many processors charge you more for lower-cost transactions. Debit card transactions, for example, usually cost less than credit card transactions. Make sure you're being charged less.
- Not all card transactions are created equal.
The card companies charge more than 250 interchange rates, depending on the type of business, card and transaction. To make it even more confusing, many processors create their own categories — like “qualified,” “non-qualified” and “mid-qualified” — as a way to mark up the rate card companies charge without full disclosure.
- “Total card fees” don't represent the real total.
In this statement, you need to add the “less discount paid” line item (the fee you pay your processor) to the “total card fees” line item (the interchange you pay) to arrive at your real bottom-line costs. “Total card fees” is just part of the total you pay.
- What is a “discount rate”?
“Discount rate” is an industry-accepted term for the fee your processor charges. However, many processors quote you a low in-the-door discount rate without disclosing that most of your transactions won't qualify for it. Look at your statement carefully, and you'll likely see many transactions charged at much higher rates.
- Beware of bill-backs and other surcharges.
Many processors hide arbitrary charges — often classified as “bill-backs” and “surcharges” — without disclosing them to you. They charge a low discount rate on all of your transactions, then add extra surcharges to them — some of which are billed the month the transaction occurs and others the following month. This makes reconciling charges and figuring out your total monthly costs even more difficult.
- Take note of additional fees.
There may be even more fees … from per-transaction to batching, authorization, annual charges and more. Understand what they are and why you're paying them. It's possible some are just randomly included.
- “AVS” is supposed to lower costs by decreasing the risk of fraud.
The Address Verification Service (AVS) compares a customer's address with the billing address linked to the credit card. When you use AVS, transactions qualify for a lower rate because you're reducing the risk of fraud. Some processors don't pass this savings on to you. In fact, some actually charge you more.