Ohio SBDC - Free Expert Business Advice

Credit Card Payment Surcharges and Fees - Are you in violation?

If you charge your customers a fee to pay by credit card, you are in violation of a heavily pursued rule of Visa and MasterCard. This violation, if continued could cost you thousands of dollars in fines and a listing on the Terminated Merchant File, which would prevent you from accepting credit cards for years to come.

Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of merchants are simply unaware of. While it’s all too common for a processing company to not take the time to properly educate merchants on the rules and regulations associated with accepting credit cards, we want you to be educated and avoid any hassles. If you are one of the many trying to pass on this cost of doing business, I would strongly encourage you to reconsider.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to structure a convenience fee system. Or, another solution to recovering your credit card fees, which may even make you a little more money in 2009 is to increase the selling price of your items and then offer a discount for payment via cash or check. Both methods are considered fair alternatives by both Visa and Mastercard.

Neither of these solutions are what I would consider to be ideal when you consider the added benefits of accepting credit cards (larger tickets, impulse purchases, less cash on hand, etc.), but I’m not here to judge your business practices. Maybe, you are in such a low margin business that 2.5% would mean the difference between you making and losing money.

Implement one of the above solutions to keep Visa and MasterCard off your back and avoid fines that would far exceed what you would likely pay in credit card processing fees for a lifetime—and/or getting listed on the Terminated Merchant File. Each of these options has stipulations that must be considered and you should contact your merchant service provider or contact Payex (WEMSK Sponsor) for more details.

For more information on Visa’s Rules and Regulations download their Card Acceptance Guide. There is also great information related to acceptance on each Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express’ web site.

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