What Are The Risks Of Using Business Credit Cards?

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Business credit cards offer a variety of enticing perks to companies that use them skillfully. But with those tempting rewards come a unique battery of risks that can catch unprepared businesses off guard.

Here are some of the risks that come with using business credit cards…

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Interest Rates

The most obvious risk you take when using business credit cards is accruing interest.

Business credit card APRs typically fall in the mid-to-high teens. If you carry a monthly balance on your business credit card, interest will begin to accrue on your account. This interest is an additional, and often unnecessary, business expense.

To figure out how much you’ll be spending in interest, divide your APR by 365. So, if your APR is 18 percent, your daily interest rate will be 0.0493 percent. In other words, if your balance on a given day is $1,000, you’ll accrue 49 cents in interest on that day.

As you can imagine, those small charges add up very quickly. Most carriers will offer a grace period to make payments without being charged interest, but you’ll need to keep an eye on your bill to see if you’re meeting them. Unlike personal credit cards, there’s no set, legally enforced interest-free window.

Bait & Switches

Personal credit cards are governed by the Credit CARD Act of 2009. This legislation ensures that cardholders get 21 days to pay their bills, won’t be subject to retroactive rate increases, will receive ample warning before rates are increased, and will have payments applied to their highest APR items first.

Unfortunately, those protections do not apply to business credit cards. That means credit card companies can change your rate, and even your billing date, with little warning. In a worse case scenario, this can leave you facing charges you aren’t prepared for or make it more burdensome to pay off standing debts.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your credit card company will be pulling shenanigans with your account, but you need to be on guard for it. Be especially wary of changes if you miss a payment, as they’ll often be used as a rationale for tinkering with your terms of service.

You’ll also want to be aware of less nefarious tactics like introductory offers. You may be expecting them to expire, but did you know your credit card company can revoke them at any time, for any reason?

Needless to say, keep an eye on your statements.

Affect On Your Credit Report

At this point, business credit cards are probably sounding like the wild frontier of revolving lines of credits. Unsurprisingly, this can carry over to credit reporting.

There’s no industry standard governing what bureaus your credit card activity is reported to, or if it’ll be reported at all.

This means that some companies will report your business credit card activity to commercial credit bureaus. Others will report it to consumer credit bureaus. Some will report it to both. Some will report it to neither.

So if you’re hoping to create a partition between your personal and business credit, you may have a hard time doing it with a business credit card. This can also make it difficult for you to use a business credit card to repair your personal credit.

If you’re concerned about how your business credit card usage shows up on credit reports, be sure to contact your credit card company and find out what their policy is.

Debt Responsibility

Depending on how your business is incorporated, you may or may not be personally liable for business debts in general.

Business credit cards, however, tend to require a personal guarantor on the account. That means that you are responsible for those debts should your business close. On the other hand, that also means you can treat that business debt as personal debt if you file for bankruptcy.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that these risks are a collection of worst case scenarios. Many companies maintain mutually beneficial relationships with their business credit card providers. Nevertheless, it is a poorly regulated segment of the credit card industry that comes with a number of dangerous pitfalls. Just don’t be caught unawares.

Looking for a convenient rundown of some of the most popular business cards? Check out our comparison chart.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

Business Credit Card Rewards: Everything You Need To Know

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One of the biggest perks offered by business credit cards, other than convenience, is rewards. Gamed correctly, business credit card rewards can be a way to save money on your biggest expenses.

Not sure which rewards are right for your business? Wondering what kinds of expenses to use your card on? Not even sure what’s out there? Read on!

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What Are Business Credit Card Rewards?

Simply put, they’re incentives to use your card to make purchases. When you make a purchase on your card, you’ll be awarded points or cash for each dollar you’ve spent. The number and type of points awarded vary by card. In many cases, where you’re spending it matters too.

How Many Types Of Rewards Are There?

A lot. In fact, many business credit card rewards cater to a specific type of spending. Overall, you can break them down into two broad categories.

  • Cash: This is the simplest, and oldest, kind of reward program offered by business credit cards. Cash rewards accumulate as you make purchases on your credit card. You may, for example, earn 2 percent back on every purchase you make. Depending on your carrier, you’ll have the option to redeem the rewards automatically at specific times of year, when you reach reward thresholds, or when you request them. Cash rewards can be redeemed as checks, statement credit and, in some cases, as gift certificates.
  • Rewards: Other business credit cards don’t return cash, instead awarding points or frequent flyer miles to cardholders. These cards tend to cater to specific types of business. For example, businesses whose staff frequently travel may choose a card that awards flyer miles. A business that spends a lot on telecommunications, on the other hand, may choose a card that rewards expenditures on those expenses. Other reward programs are more general, presenting you with a diverse (but limited) array of rewards to spend your points on.

What Are Reward Tiers?

Not all business credit cards have reward tiers. Cash cards almost never have them, for example, but many reward cards do.

Reward-based cards use tiers to influence your spending habits. For example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit card breaks its reward point system into two tiers. For each $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, telecommunications, and social media advertising, you’ll earn three reward points. Any other purchases you make will be compensated with one point per $1.

Most cards that use tiers will have two or three of them. The lowest tier almost always represents miscellaneous purchases.

How To Choose The Right Reward

Business credit cards, ideally, reward a specific kind of spending behavior. With that in mind, it’s best to consider which rewards best sync up with your expenses.

This means you’ll probably want to itemize your monthly business expenses to see where you’re spending your money. You’ll also want to get the cash value of the reward points offered by any rewards cards you are considering (expect a value somewhere around a cent or two).

To make a comparison, pretend you’ve put all of your monthly expenses on the credit card and calculate the cash value of the points (or cash back) you would get for making those purchases. So if you have $800 of expenses that qualify top tier points (3) and $1,000 of miscellaneous purchases, you’d be earning $34 worth of rewards each month or $408 per year.

If your expenses aren’t concentrated in any specific area, consider cash rewards. You may not get as big a multiplier on specific purchases, but you’ll often recoup a better value on your miscellaneous purchases. Not only that, but you can spend your cash return on whatever you want. Consider cash as “breadth” to rewards’ “depth.”

What Else Should You Factor Into Your Reward Calculations?

You didn’t think it would be quite that easy, did you? Business credit card terms feature a large number of asterisks and footnotes. Here are some things you should also consider when calculating a card’s reward potential:

  • Sign-up Bonus: Many business credit cards will offer an initial sign-up bonus. This is a one-time offer and usually requires you to spend a minimum amount of money in order to qualify.
  • Annual Fee: Some business credit cards charge an annual fee to keep the card active. You’ll want to deduct this amount from your yearly reward value. Note that many cards will waive the first year’s fee.
  • Reward Limits: While it might be fun to think of ways to earn an endless torrent of reward points, your carrier is one step ahead of you. Some carriers will limit the number of top tier points you can earn. Others may stop rewarding points or cash for the year after you hit a spending threshold of, say, $150,000.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your business credit card should match your existing spending habits. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should have a specific card just because it’s popular or even well-reviewed.

Need help getting started? Check out our 2018 business credit card comparisons.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

The Dos And Don’ts Of Business Credit Cards

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Business credit cards offer one of the most convenient ways for your company to borrow money for goods and services without having to have your purchases scrutinized by a lending institution. Best of all, the revolving credit offered by your card means that as long as you pay off your card on a regular basis, you will always have access to a certain amount of money.

But like all forms of debt, business credit cards have downsides and come with fine print that can leave an unprepared business spending far more money than they should. Below, we’ll explore some of the do’s and don’ts of business credit cards.

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DO

Be Aware Of Terms & Fees

Credit cards come with a lot of fine print detailing everything from introductory APRs to how your reward points are calculated. The more transparent carriers will take pains to make you aware of the important details, but beware of asterisks lurking near numbers. Business credit cards don’t have as many protections as personal credit cards, so you’ll want to know if (and when) your carrier can raise your interest rates.

Choose The Type Of Rewards That Best Suit Your Business

Perks are a big part of what distinguishes one business card from another. With some rare exceptions, perks fall into one of three categories:

  • Money Back: For every x amount of money you spend on your credit card, you’ll get a percentage of the expenditures back as cash. Depending on the carrier, this money may be returned as a check, a bank deposit, a gift card, or credit to your account.
  • Rewards: This is a catch-all for a number of different reward schemes, where you’re credited x number of points for each dollar you’ve spent. These rewards can be redeemed for goods and services from selected vendors.
  • Mileage: If you do a lot of long-distance traveling, some business credit cards use frequent flyer miles as rewards. As with the other types of rewards, you’ll earn x number of miles for each dollar you spent.

Be Aware Of Reward Tiers

As important as selecting the right reward type for your business is understanding how to maximize your rewards. Rewards are usually broken up into two or three tiers (although some don’t have tiers). In most cases, the tiers correspond to the multiplier applied to each dollar you spend. You may, for example, earn 3 points per dollar you spend at restaurants, 2 points per dollar you spend at gas stations, and 1 point for each dollar you spend on other purchases.

Ideally, you’ll want to use your card for purchases that earn you the most reward points.

Calculate The Earning Potential Of Your Card

An easy way to figure out which card is best for you is to break down your monthly credit spending into categories like travel, telecommunications, and office equipment. You can then choose a card that will give you the biggest return on your expenses.

Create A Credit Card Policy If Your Employees Will Be Using It

Since business credit cards are for business expenses, the owner isn’t necessarily the only person who will be using it. You’ll want your employees to be aware of how and when to use the card, and how to maximize its value.

DON’T

Pay Too Much In Annual Fees

One of the easiest business credit card fees to avoid is the annual fee. Unlike most personal credit cards, business credit cards frequently require a yearly fee to keep active. These fees usually range from ten to a few hundred dollars. Many cards will waive the first year’s fees, so make sure you know what you’ll be paying over the long term.

Leave Balances On Your Card Longer Than You Have To

You can file this under general credit card advice, but it’s worth remembering: the longer the cost of an item remains on your credit card, the more that item effectively costs. Why would you pay a higher price than you have to? And best of all, you’re still earning rewards!

Use Your Card Recklessly Just To Earn Rewards

As nice as the rewards are, they can be a trap if you adopt the wrong mindset. Running up unmanageable balances in the hopes of maximizing your rewards points will leave you with a net loss.

Use Your Business Card For Personal Expenses

You won’t get in trouble for it, but it’s a best practice to avoid mixing personal and business expenses. At best, it’ll complicate your bookkeeping. If you’re running a small sole proprietorship with minimal expenses, you may want to just use your personal credit card.

Ignore Prerequisites For Sign-Up Bonuses

Many business credit cards offer sign-up bonuses. In most cases, you’ll need to spend a minimal amount of money before those sign-up bonuses kick in. Factor them into your calculations.

Final Thoughts

A business credit card can be a powerful tool for your business. For a side-by-side comparison of popular cards, check out our 2018 business credit card feature.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

What Is A Secured Business Credit Card?

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Conventional wisdom dictates that you’ll have a difficult time accessing credit — including business credit cards — after declaring a bankruptcy (or if your credit score is terrible). But as true as that can be, it doesn’t take into account the credit cards of last resort: secured business credit cards.

Below, we’ll take a look at what secured business credit cards are, where you can find them, and what they offer.

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How Is A Credit Card “Secured?”

The justification for secured credit cards is simple, actually. These cards address a very specific conundrum: banks can’t afford to extend risky borrowers a line of credit, but businesses often can’t rebuild their credit scores unless they have access to a line of credit.

How do you get around this Catch-22? The answer is counterintuitive.

To obtain a secured credit card, you must first give the bank a sum of money that becomes your credit line. If you make a deposit of $300, the bank will extend you a credit line of $300. That deposit secures your credit card. In some cases, the issuer won’t even check your credit (or if they do, it’s only to confirm your identity).

Simple, right? But wait …

Why Wouldn’t I Just Spend The Cash Directly?

That’s the question, isn’t it? On the surface, giving a bank money to lend back to you at interest seems like a pretty bad idea. In fact, it sounds like a completely insane idea.

Luckily, it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. If you’re able to keep up with your payments, that deposit is eventually returned to you. In some cases, you may be automatically upgraded to an unsecured card when your credit improves (but not always, so keep an eye on your credit rating).

Even before that happens, there are a few perks that can come with secured credit cards. In some cases, the creditor may extend you a credit line equal to your deposit, plus a percentage of your deposit. So you might deposit $300 and have a credit limit of $330.

And again, the only legitimate reason to ever use a secured card is to rebuild your credit.

Does A Secured Card Function Like Other Business Credit Cards?

Yes. In most cases, secured business cards will offer familiar perks and bonuses. You should be able to find cards that offer cash back or reward points.

And once you set it up, you can use it just like a normal business credit card.

What’s The Difference Between A Good Secured Credit Card And A Bad One?

Short answer: fees and interest rates.

The less scrupulous secured credit cards providers know that you probably have poor credit and will try to take advantage of your lack of options.

If possible, you want to select a card that has a low annual fee or no fee at all. These fees are common even with unsecured business credit cards, but they can end up being quite high. Be especially wary of annual fees over $40.

While APRs on secured cards are often higher, there are secured credit cards with rates in the single digits. On the high end, however, are APRs over 30 percent. You’ll want to stay away from those. If you don’t plan on carrying a balance, this isn’t as big a deal, but you should still avoid high rates if you can. Emergencies happen, after all.

Are Secured Cards My Only Option If I Have Bad Credit?

Not necessarily. A lot of banks will offer high-interest unsecured credit cards with very low credit lines to businesses and individuals with poor credit. Depending on the APRs and credit limits, they may or may not offer you a better deal than you’d get with an unsecured card.

Final Thoughts

Traditional lending and credit may still be hard to come by, but for almost any type of credit you can think of, there’s an alternative available for high-risk borrowers. If you do your due diligence, you can use secured credit cards to your advantage. But once your credit is rebuilt, you’ll want to ditch them for an unsecured card.

Not sure where to start with business credit cards? Check out our some of our favorites.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

What Is Affirm And What Does It Offer?

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We often talk about how tightening credit standards have changed the face of lending. What’s less discussed is the effect the Great Recession has had on consumers

American credit card debt, currently amounting to around $808 billion, is one of the easiest types of credit to overextend yourself on. Not coincidentally, many younger Americans are avoiding credit cards at a higher rate. Fewer than one-in-three Millenials claim to have a credit card, for example.

That’s where Affirm comes in. Companies like Affirm count on the fact that cardless consumers will still face situations where they need to buy something that they can’t afford.

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How Does Affirm Work?

Affirm offers point-of-sale (POS) financing. This isn’t a new form of lending, but rather a technology-assisted reinvention of an old lending model.

Here’s an example of how the process works:

You decide you can’t possibly live without the hottest new gaming console a moment longer, so you add it to your online shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Among your options to pay are the usual credit and debit cards, along with payment processors like PayPal. But this merchant also provides an option to use Affirm, which allows you to take out a short-term loan on the spot to finance the exact cost of your purchase. You’re given the choice of paying back the loan over the course of three, six, or 12 months. Affirm then shows you how much money you’ll be paying back, expressed as both an interest rate and a dollar amount. If you accept, your purchase is processed.

Congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new game console…and a short-term loan!

Isn’t That Just How A Credit Card Works?

In a sense, sure. Revolving lines of credit and short-term loans have a lot in common. In both cases, you’re “taking out” an amount of money equal to the cost of your purchase, which you’ll be paying back (hopefully) within the next few months. Additionally, in both cases, creditors aren’t concerned with what you’re buying, just the amount you’re requesting/using.

But there are some important differences.

The big one is that Affirm evaluates each loan separately rather than as a line of credit. You won’t be cut off when you hit a specified credit limit, but your loan may be denied if you missed payments on other Affirm loans or if they believe you’ve overextended yourself. Additionally, Affirm may not always cover the entirety of your purchase; you may have to make a downpayment.

You can expect APRs between 10% – 30% with Affirm. The average credit card APR is around 15%, so you can easily end up paying more than you would with a credit card. Loans are capped at $10,000.

Why Would I Want To Use Affirm Instead Of A Credit Card?

The short answer is that it’s mostly a matter of your own spending psychology, but there are some specific reasons why you might choose a POS loan over a credit card purchase.

You Have Poor Credit

Credit card companies aren’t quite as conservative as they were during the financial crisis, but many shoppers may still find themselves unable to access credit. Or they may only qualify for a very low credit limit. POS lenders take credit into account (Affirm, for example, does a soft pull on your credit when you first signup), but don’t weight it as heavily.

You’ve Maxed Out Your Credit Cards

While you may want to reconsider taking on more debt, there’s nothing really stopping you from utilizing both credit cards and POS loans.

Special Offers

It’s not unusual for credit card companies to offer 0% APR introductory rates. PoS loans also come with 0% APR offers, but they’re a little different. Instead of being attached to new accounts, Affirm will sometimes offer 0% APRs at specific partner stores.

You Like The Way The Loans Are Structured

Credit cards offer enormous flexibility in how they’re repaid. Other than making the required minimum monthly payment, you can throw any amount of money you want at your balance every month. At the same time, it’s not necessarily clear how much you should be paying to make a good dent in your balance. A POS loan has a prescribed end and tells you the amount of money you need to pay each month in order to meet it.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of diversity in the types of financing being offered to individuals and businesses these days. POS loans fit into the broader alternative lending trends. That is to say, they’re fast, easy, and more expensive. Still, they do provide options for borrowers who have a hard time otherwise accessing credit, or who wish to avoid credit cards’ minimum payment trap.

Meanwhile, if you’re a business that prefers old-fashioned credit cards, why not take a look at our business credit card comparison chart?

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

The Complete Guide To Card Brand Fees For Merchant Accounts

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credit card processing fees image

In this guide, we’re tackling a surprisingly tricky and supremely detail-oriented topic in the world of card payment processing: card brand fees. Navigating these fees on your merchant account statement can feel like you’re on a scavenger hunt you didn’t sign up for — and not the fun kind. There’s no avoiding the fact that the devil’s in the details when it comes to card brand fees, but too many merchants overlook or misunderstand them at their own peril. Fortunately, Merchant Maverick is here to help you:

  • Understand card brand fees and how they apply to your specific merchant account.
  • Identify these fees on your statement with our reference list of commonly-charged card brand fees.
  • Discern if your card processor is ripping you off by messing with these fees.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

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Card Brand Fees VS Interchange Fees

Wait, aren’t these the same thing? If you thought so, you’re not the only one. Many merchants are surprised to learn that interchange fees and card brand fees are two completely separate types of fees. If this includes you, then you are about to join the elite class of merchants who understand the difference!

The common conflation of these two fee types stems from the fact that both are considered part of the “wholesale” cost of card processing, as opposed to the “markup.” In processing lingo, “wholesale” simply means that your processor must pay these fees to a separate entity in the processing chain instead of keeping the money for its own use.

The key distinction between these two sub-categories of wholesale fees, therefore, is which link in the chain is owed each fee. Here’s the difference: An interchange fee goes to to the customer’s card-issuing bank, while card brand fees are ultimately paid to the actual card brands themselves (e.g., Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

For both of these wholesale costs, card processors and the merchant services providers (MSPs) who manage your accounts are faced with a choice. Do they itemize and “pass-through” these wholesale fees directly to the merchant? Or, do they absorb the wholesale cost into the pricing structure in other ways, perhaps by charging a higher processing rate or monthly fee? Or, do they use some solution in between?

As a merchant, you’re tasked with knowing how your own MSP handles wholesale fees — both interchange and card brand. We’re only addressing card brand fees in this article. For more on interchange fees and how the different pricing models (such as interchange-plus) incorporate them, see our complete guide to rates and fees.

Card brand fees are typically either a percentage of volume charge or a flat amount per instance. Some apply to all your transactions, while others only apply in very specific situations, such as when an authorization is abnormal in some way. We’ll cover these individual fees and their circumstances in the itemized list at the end of this article.

The good news is that card brand fees have set, established amounts across the industry. Like interchange fees, they’re considered non-negotiable, and the processor has no control over the amounts. The bad news is that finding the true wholesale amounts for card brand fees is generally more difficult than looking up interchange rates.

Before we delve into why these fees are so pesky, note that they’re also called card network fees, card association fees, or assessments (although, as you’ll see, an “assessment” is technically a specific sub-category of card brand fee).

Card Brand Fees Are Especially Tricky

Due to several regrettable quirks of the processing industry, card brand fees are particularly complicated and opaque. Here are the primary reasons:

  • They’re not displayed on the card brand websites. By contrast, interchange tables are readily available at the Visa and MasterCard websites.
  • You can’t call the card brands and ask about the fees. You’ll be redirected right back to your own MSP to answer any questions. It’s incredibly frustrating that we can’t rely on the card brands to disclose these base costs, and instead must rely on processors and MSPs to be honest when they pass the fees through.
  • Multiple fees may apply to the same authorization or transaction. For example, transactions paid with a foreign-issued card incur separate international surcharges on top of the regular assessment that’s applied to all your transactions.
  • The fees change (usually increase) over time. And not all at once. While they’re rarely decreased, sometimes particular fees are eliminated and/or replaced with others. Occasionally, a completely new fee is instituted, to which the only fitting response is…

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  • Many of the fees are known by multiple names and abbreviations, and it’s often difficult to match the names on your own statement with any established names.
  • Two or more fees may be combined into one on your statement, making them hard to identify and verify.
  • The fees can be spread throughout multiple sections of your statement — not grouped all together or even labeled properly — just in case you weren’t already driven bonkers by this stuff. Often, I’ve seen them buried inside “interchange” or “authorization” sections.
  • Brazen processors or MSPs may add their own markups to card brand fees without telling you. Or, they may invent fees and give them card-brand-sounding names. Yuck, right?
  • Most of the fees are small, so can be overlooked as inconsequential. They can still add up quite quickly, but the real issue at stake is the overall honesty and transparency of your provider. Regardless of whether an extra fee or markup here and there isn’t costing you that much, wouldn’t you still rather know about it?

How To Stay On Top Of Card Brand Fees

It’s a shame that merchants can’t rely on Gandalf’s wizardry for this quest. Instead, we suggest you follow our tips for navigating these fees:

  • Be aware that you may be charged only some, or even none, of these fees. This depends on several factors, including 1) your pricing model, 2) what your MSP decides to pass through versus absorb, and 3) what happens with your transactions and authorizations in a given month. With many blended, tiered or flat-rate plans, all or most of the card brand fees are absorbed into the overall cost of your account instead of itemized and passed through to you. There are no guarantees with any pricing model, however, so check your statements anyway!
  • Obtain a list of card brand fees from your merchant account provider. If they’re passing these fees through to you, they should provide a detailed list with the specific names and abbreviations they’re using.
  • Use a secondary, neutral source to confirm fee amounts. Our list below is a great place to start.
  • Keep a running list of the card brand fees you’ve seen on your own statements, along with the amounts. Reference lists are handy, but a personalized list is easier to use and track over time than a litany of every possible fee for every possible circumstance.
  • Processors shouldn’t mark up these fees without clearly informing you. And really, they should leave these fees alone completely. If the fee is charged at all, it should be passed through at cost.
  • Trust the amount more than the name. Identifying a fee on your statement is often more about looking at the rate or amount charged, as well as the specific number/volume/type of transactions to which it was applied. The process of elimination can be very effective here.
  • Definitely be suspicious if you spot extra fees that aren’t on the reference list, any that seem like duplicates or that can’t be matched with established values, or those that look too high. Don’t worry too much if a fee seems too low; it’s possible your processor is just absorbing or redistributing some of the cost.
  • Be on the lookout for fee change notifications. October and April are common transition points, but the fees can change at any time. Good processors will notify you (sometimes on the statement itself) when a card brand fee is set to increase or change. If your processor doesn’t fall in this camp, it’s all the more important that you bookmark this article.
  • Ask before you sign. If you’re just signing up for an MSP or changing providers, ask how it handles card brand fees in addition to interchange costs. Be very clear that you know the difference and want the specifics. Remember, not all customer service reps are created equal in their knowledge of this topic. Ask to be transferred up the chain if you’re not satisfied.

Final Thoughts (Let’s Crowdsource This!)

As merchants, you are on the front lines for tracking card brand fees. We believe your input will be key in keeping our reference list up to date. Some of you have processors who actually do a good job organizing and displaying card brand fees on statements, as well as notifying you of any upcoming changes. Is a fee on our list is no longer accurate? Are we missing a new, legitimate fee? Together, we can also help other merchants whose processors are abysmal at communicating fees, or even cheating business owners. Let’s all team up on this — leave a comment below!
International Service Assessment (ISA)

  • Surcharge owed on transactions that are processed in the US on a card issued outside the US.
  • 1.20% – International Service Assessment (ISA) – Non-US currency
    • Same fee as above, but incurs this higher rate when the transaction is settled in the cardholder’s local currency.
    • 0.45% – International Acquirer Fee (IAF)
      • Applies in same circumstance as the International Assessment above.

    Per-Item:

    • $0.0195 – Acquirer Processing Fee (APF): Credit
      • Owed on all credit transactions for US-based businesses, irrespective of where cardholder/issuer is located.
    • $0.0155 – Acquirer Processing Fee (APF): Debit
      • Owed on all debit transactions for US-acquired businesses, irrespective of where the cardholder/issuer is located.
    • $0.0195 – Credit Voucher Fee (Credit)
      • Owed on all refunds issued in the US via credit card.
    • $0.0155 – Credit Voucher Fee (Debit)
      • Owed on all refunds issued in the US via debit card.
    • $0.0018 – System File Transmission Fee / Base II Fee
      • Owed on all authorized transactions submitted for settlement (in addition to the above transaction fees). Base II refers to Visa’s settlement network.
      • Outdated Visa settlement fees:
        • $0.0025 – Settlement Network Access Fee. Base II fee may still be called by this name but should be $0.0018.
        • $0.0047 – Kilobyte (KB) Access Fee. Should not be charged in addition to the above.
    • $0.10 – Transaction Integrity Fee (TIF)
      • Owed on a debit or prepaid Visa transaction that fails to meet CPS requirements (e.g., not settled in 24 hours, no AVS submitted on a keyed transaction).
    • $0.09 – Misuse of Authorization Fee
      • Owed when a transaction is authorized, but not followed by a matching cleared transaction, or when a canceled or timed-out authorization is improperly reversed.
    • $0.20 – Zero Floor Limit Fee
      • Owed when the merchant submits a settlement transaction without an authorization.
    • $0.025 – Zero Dollar Verification Fee
      • Owed when the merchant verifies a cardholder’s information (e.g., AVS, CVC2) without authorizing a transaction.

    Other:

    • Varies – Fixed Acquirer Network Fee (FANF)
      • A flat fee based on your volume per month, type of business (Merchant Category Code or MCC), number of locations, etc. Typically charged quarterly or monthly. Learn more about the FANF here.

    MasterCard Network Fees

    Volume-Based:

    • 0.12% – Assessment / Acquirer Brand Volume Fee – Transactions <$1,000 and all Signature Debit
      • Owed on gross commercial and consumer credit transactions less than $1,000, as well as all signature debit.
    • 0.14% – Assessment / Acquirer Brand Volume Fee – Transactions >$1,000)
      • Owed on gross commercial and consumer credit transactions exceeding $1,000; excludes signature debit. Note: May be listed as 0.02% surcharge over the above assessment.
    • 0.0075% – Acquirer License Fee (ALF) / License Volume Fee 
      • Owed on gross transaction volume. Increased from 0.0045% Oct. 2017. Note: sometimes combined with the above assessments, bringing the totals to 0.1275% and 0.1475%, respectively.
    • 0.60% – International / Cross-Border Assessment Fee (Domestic)
      • Surcharge owed by US-based merchants on transactions on a card issued outside the U.S. settled in USD. (Similar to Visa’s ISA.)
    • 1.00% – International / Cross-Border Assessment Fee (Foreign)
      • Same fee as above, but incurs this higher rate when the transaction is settled in the cardholder’s local currency. (Similar to Visa’s ISA.)
    • 0.85% – International Acquirer Program Support Fee
      • Applies in same circumstance as the Cross-Border Assessment above. (Similar to Visa’s IAF.)
    • 0.01% – Digital Enablement Fee
      • Owed on all card-not-present transactions for signature debit, consumer credit, and commercial credit cards.
    • 1.57%Global Wholesale Travel Transaction B2B
      • Owed instead of regular assessments, international surcharges, and NABU fees when the MasterCard B2B (MSB) card product has been used. Applies to a specific set of Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) in the travel and entertainment sector.

    Per-Item:

    • $0.0195 – Network Access and Brand Usage Fee (NABU Fee)
      • Owed on all US-based authorizations, regardless if settled. (Similar to Visa’s APF, Discover’s Data Usage Fee.)
    • $0.0044 – Kilobyte (KB) Access Fee
      • Owed on each authorized transaction submitted for settlement. Note: we’re in the process of checking to see if it’s still charged.
    • $0.01 – AVS Fee (Card-Not-Present)
      • Owed on card-not-present transactions processed using Address Verification Service (AVS). Often shows up on a statement under “Authorizations.”
    • $0.005 – AVS Fee (Card-Present)
      • Owed on Card-Present transactions processed using AVS. Often shows up under “Authorizations.”
    • $0.0025 – Card Validation Code Fee
      • Owed on all transactions involving CVC2 authorization.
    • $0.025 – Account Status Inquiry Fee
      • Owed when a merchant verifies AVS or CVC2 without authorizing a transaction.
    • $0.03 – SecureCode Transaction Fee
      • Owed on all MC SecureCode verification attempts (SecureCode service requires merchant signup).
    • $0.055 – Processing Integrity Fee
      • Owed for transactions that do not comply with best practices for transactions (i.e., not properly cleared/settled/reversed within MasterCard’s time frames for the type of transaction). Below are similar fees for other types of authorization integrity issues:
        • $0.045 – Processing Integrity Fee, Pre-Authorization
        • $0.045 – Processing Integrity Fee, Undefined Authorization
        • $0.040 minimum, or 0.25% – Processing Integrity Fee: Final Authorization
    • $0.012 – Processing Integrity Fee Detail Reporting
      • Owed on any authorization that generates a processing integrity fee for pre-authorization, undefined authorization, or final authorization.

    Other:

    • $1.25/mo. ($15 per year) – Merchant Location Fee
      • $15 annually for each location with traditional MSPs/processors ($3 annually for payment facilitators like Square). Not applicable to merchants processing under $200/month, nor to charitable or religious organizations.
    • $500 – Yearly Registration Fee
      • For online e-cigarettes/vaping businesses.

     Discover Network Fees

    Volume-Based:

    • 0.13% – Assessment
      • Owed on gross transaction volume.
    • 0.55% – International Processing Fee
      • Owed on US-based transactions processed with a card issued outside the U.S.
    • 0.80% – International Service Fee
      • Applies in same circumstance as the International Processing Fee above.

    Per-Item:

    • $0.0195 – Data Usage Fee
      • Owed on all authorized transactions. (Similar to Visa’s APF and MasterCard’s NABU Fees.)
    • $0.0025 – Network Authorization Fee
      • Owed on all authorized transactions. Replaced the Data Transmission Fee in 2013, which only applied to settled transactions.

    American Express OptBlue Network Fees

    American Express OptBlue

    Volume-Based:

    • 0.15% – Assessment
      • Owed on gross transaction volume.
    • 0.40% – International Assessment / Inbound Fee
      • Surcharge owed on transactions involving a card issued outside the US.
    • 0.30% – Card-Not-Present Surcharge
      • Surcharge owed on any transactions considered CNP, including keyed and ecommerce transactions.
    • 0.75%Technical Specification Non-Compliance
      • Owed on transactions that do not meet Amex standards, such as an authorization not obtained at the same time as a sale. Much rarer than Visa and MasterCard fees for transaction integrity problems.

    Per-Item:

    Rose Holman

    Rose’s eclectic professional background includes teaching, research, retail, non-profits and music. Upon returning to her Pacific Northwest roots following a four year stint in the tiny country of Luxembourg, she immediately applied her innate curiosity and lifelong love of explaining stuff to the world of merchant accounts. Her hobbies include devouring podcasts, practicing minimalism, and singing four-part harmony with her husband and two kids.

    Rose Holman

    “”

    How Can I Get A Bank Loan For My Business If I’ve Had A Bankruptcy?

    Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships. Learn more.

    Bankruptcy shouldn’t be taken lightly. Aside from asset forfeiture, the shock to your credit rating is the main disincentive to filing bankruptcy. Prospective filers are cautioned that they’ll have a hard time accessing credit for up to a decade. While there’s some truth to these warnings, the worst case scenarios are also a bit overblown.

    It’s possible to get bank loans after a bankruptcy, but you may have to work a bit harder to get them and approach the process with an open mind. We’ll look at some of the questions you should ask and strategies you can pursue below.

    Table of Contents

    What Happens To My Credit Score?

    Even after bankruptcy, your credit rating will be one of the biggest determining factors in whether or not a bank will lend to you.

    While you might assume bankruptcy completely destroys your credit, the truth is a bit more complicated. You can expect a bankruptcy to shave a hundred or two points off your credit rating which, of course, isn’t great. How negatively impacted your credit is will depend on the amount of debt being discharged and how many accounts are delinquent, as well as how many accounts are current. In fact, depending on how bad your credit was at the time you declared bankruptcy, it’s not impossible that your credit might slightly improve.

    The bankruptcy will stay on your record for seven to 10 years, but your credit can begin to improve immediately.

    How Can I Improve My Credit Score After Bankruptcy?

    There are a number of different ways to improve your credit. Some of them apply to everyone, others more specifically those with bankruptcies on their record.

    • Get A Secured Credit Card: Unlike regular credit cards, secured credit cards require a cash payment as collateral. In fact, that deposit serves as your credit line. It’s not a great deal, but it will help rebuild your credit and offer the functionality of a credit card.
    • Pay Your Bills On Time: This is pretty obvious, but keeping your accounts current will help.
    • Use Only A Fraction Of The Credit You Have: Keep your balances small (somewhere below 25 percent of your available credit).
    • Take Out Loans and Keep Payments Current: Availability will vary based on your credit rating. We’ll be looking at some options below.
    • Use Alternative Lenders: Many alternative lenders cater to individuals and businesses with bad credit, just be aware that some of them won’t work with a borrower who recently declared bankruptcy.
    • Consider A Hard Money Loan: If you’re looking at a short-term real estate investment, hard money provides a risky way to get financing with bad credit.
    • Wait: On the bright side, the farther you get away from the date of your bankruptcy, the less impact it will have on your credit rating.

    What Loans Are Available?

    Lending is a gamble, but there are lenders willing to take a bigger risk in exchange for a potentially larger payday. Believe it or not, it’s possible to get a personal loan almost immediately after you declare bankruptcy. Business loans aren’t off the table either, although you may have to jump through additional hoops to prove the creditworthiness of your business plan.

    The bad news is that you’re probably going to be paying through the nose for any credit that’s extended to you. But if you’re judicious about how much you borrow and don’t let a lot of interest accrue, you can still make good use of loans.

    Since we’re looking specifically at bank loans, the good news is that they tend to be a bit more conservative when it comes to how much they’ll extend you and the length of the terms. Keep an eye out for any supplemental fees they charge on high-interest products.

    Mortgages are a different story. It’s almost unheard of for a bank to offer a mortgage to a newly bankrupt customer. Depending on the type of mortgage you’re looking for, the waiting times can range from one to four years. If you’ve previously defaulted on a mortgage, your wait time is more likely to fall on the longer side of that range.

    How Can I Find The Right Bank?

    Not all banks have the same bankruptcy policies. Consider keeping your business and personal accounts with a bank or credit union willing to extend you credit. You’ll also want to gather as much information as you can about what products are offered to customers with a bankruptcy on their record.

    Be wary of extremely high-interest rates and (especially) any monthly maintenance fees charged in addition to interest.

    What If I’ve Filed Chapter 13?

    Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcies, Chapter 13 bankruptcies last several years while your business undergoes restructuring. During this time, you’ll have trustee-enforced restrictions on how you can borrow.

    Final Thoughts

    As big an impact as a bankruptcy has on your life and business, it’s by no means the end of the line in terms of getting credit. Just be patient, weigh your options carefully, and don’t get taken advantage of.

    Chris Motola

    Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

    Chris Motola

    “”

    Team Bio Series – Chris Motola (Gamer Extraordinaire)

    Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships. Learn more.

    Chris Motola: Merchant Maverick’s own little piece of Brooklyn. When he’s not writing about, erm, extremely dubious financial products, he’s playing table games, hiking, or geeking-out, Tarantino-style. (What is a Tarantino-style nerd? Do they perform Kill Bill cosplay? Or meet for table reads of Jackie Brown? Chris isn’t telling.) Let’s find out more about how the East Coast’s number one writer of MCA reviews rolls…

    Name: Chris Motola

    Title: Writer – Loans and MCAs

    Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

    Current city: Middletown, NY

    Education and background: BA in English Writing from SUNY Oswego; MS in Interactive Media from University of Central Florida. I’ve worked a variety of jobs over the years–banking, warehouse, social services–but I keep coming back to writing in some form. I started off in print working for a small business and healthcare publisher in Upstate New York. I’m just old enough to have worked both sides of the digital transition.

    Merchant Maverick department/specialty: I mainly cover merchant cash advances, but I also write about equipment financing, loans, and credit cards. Previously I was covering scheduling software and email marketing as a freelancer.

    How did you discover Merchant Maverick?: Through the grapevine, really. My friend is friends with my editor’s brother. He told me Merchant Maverick was looking for writers. It was a happy coincidence.

    Proudest professional moment: It’s hard to pin it down to any one thing. I enjoy the feeling of producing something, whether it’s a tangible product like a sandwich or something more abstract like an article. If you put a gun to my head, though, it would probably be the first time I saw my name in print. It felt like I’d managed to finally make it through the gate.

    Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: It would definitely be the invitation to join the staff. I had some experience covering finance from back in the day, so it turned out to be a good fit. As for content, I like knowing I’m helping readers make informed decisions about risky financial products.

    What do you do when you’re not working for Merchant Maverick?: In my other life, I’m a game designer who dabbles in web development. I enjoy learning as a hobby, which might sound pretentious, but it’s more masochism than idealism. I like powering through frustration until the moment where something clicks. I’m into a lot of geek stuff: movies, tabletop games, video games, shows, though my geekdom probably aligns more with Tarantino or John Carpenter than Marvel. When I step away from glowing screens, I enjoy cooking, eating out, climbing mountains, and exploring towns and cities in the region.

    You’re a new addition to the Marvel Universe. Who are you and why?: In spirit, I’d probably have more in common with Squirrel Girl than Doctor Doom or Captain America. I’d be Oblivion, a Walter Mitty type who discovers that I can create dimensional holes when I zone out or daydream. At first everyone, myself included, would think portals lead to pocket universes born of my imagination. In truth, they just deposit my victims into random Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) franchise restaurants throughout the world.

    Favorite ‘90s song: Soundgarden’s Outshined

    Favorite breakfast food? I usually skip breakfast, but I’ll be a basic New Yorker and say bagel with cream cheese.

    What are three items on your bucket list?: 

    • Travel to Asia
    • Complete and publish a work of fiction, either a game or a novel
    • Be functionally literate in another language, probably Spanish

    If you could travel back in time and live in a different era, which would you choose and why?: Hmm. Most of them were objectively pretty bad. I’d probably be self-serving, go back to the 90s and set myself straight.

    Mac or Windows?: Mac’s alright, but I prefer Windows.

    If you could have lunch with a famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?: I’d be really curious about what Karl Marx was like in a casual context. After a drink or two, would he be talking about revolution or soccer?

    We’re not sure if we’d enjoy a summer blockbuster about a superhero like Oblivion, but we do give a big kudos to Chris for working a Walter Mitty reference into his interview. We love having Chris on the team, and wish him a future filled with Spanish-speaking and Thai adventures.

    Julie Titterington

    Julie Titterington is a writer, editor, and native Oregonian who lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley with her husband and two small children. When she’s not writing or testing software, she spends her time reading early 20th century mystery novels, staring blankly at her iPhone, and attempting to keep her kids fed, clothed, and relatively uninjured.

    Julie Titterington
    Julie Titterington

    “”

    Is The POS System Protected From The KRACK Attack?

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    KRACK attack

    As you become older, what you fear so much start to change. If you need to file your personal taxes and hang your own physician appointments, all of a sudden the boogie man doesn’t appear so frightening. However, there’s a brand new ‘scare’ every adult should know, and I am not talking about the clown in the approaching revival from it. Actually, the “KRACK-en” continues to be unleashed upon the tech world. (Insert afraid screams here!)

    Maybe you’ve heard about Key Reinstallation Attacks (more generally known as KRACK attacks) and perhaps you haven’t. In either case, this threat effects you, your great-granny in Zoysia, as well as your favorite cafe lower the road. In addition to this, it may affect your company too! Sorry to rain in your parade, but no one’s Wi-Fi enabled products are protected from that one. Seriously, this list of devices susceptible to some variant of the attack is lengthy. (Take a look at some prominent names that leaped out at me: Apple, Android, Linux, Dell, Google, H . P . Enterprise, Apple, Microsoft, The new sony, Oracle, McAfee, LG, IBM, Amazon . com, and Blackberry.) Like I stated, nobody is immune here. 

    Table of Contents

    Exactly What Is A KRACK attack?

    Significantly improved I’ve alarmed you about who this threat effects, let’s discuss just what a KRACK attack is. On October 16, 2017, Mathy Vanhoef, a investigator in a Belgian college, released a study titled Key Reinstallation Attacks Breaking WPA2 by forcing nonce reuse. If you are at all like me (and not the greatest tech nerd available), studying this title might have broke up with you scratching your mind. But after hanging out researching and talking with some experts about this attack, Vanhoef’s report gets to be more unnerving in my experience on the personal (and business) level. I’ll explain why.

    The best results of this sort of attack continue to be within the speculation phase. However, it’s obvious that, when transported on full of level, KRACK attacks could devastating to anybody who hasn’t taken the necessary security measures to safeguard themselves, their online information.

    Vanhoef’s report opens with this particular less-than-encouraging paragraph explaining his findings:

    We discovered serious weaknesses in WPA2, a protocol that safeguards all modern protected Wi-Fi systems. An assailant within selection of a target can exploit these weaknesses using key reinstallation attacks (KRACKs). Concretely, attackers may use this novel attack method to read information which was formerly assumed to become securely encrypted. This is often mistreated to steal sensitive information for example charge card figures, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so forth. The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi systems. With respect to the network configuration, it’s also easy to inject and manipulate data. For instance, an assailant could possibly inject ransomware or any other adware and spyware into websites.

    Yikes! Or like a kid who needs to get creative using their cussing might say: “Oh KRACK!”

    What’s much more alarming is always that WPA2 systems abound. Since 2004, they’ve traditionally been considered probably the most secure option, but because evidenced within the paragraph above, that merely isn’t true any longer. Pleasure.

    How’s A KRACK Attack Transported Out?

    [embedded content]

    Above is really a video (produced by Vanhoef) that shows just how a KRACK attack utilizes weaknesses within the WPA2 protocol. But I’ll do my favorite to describe precisely what happens throughout a KRACK attack.

    Once your wireless device connects to Wi-Fi, it participates with what is known as a four-way handshake. This “handshake” verifies a user’s password and establishes an encrypted link between the router and also the device. Attackers who’re near by (within around 100 foot) may use key reinstallation attacks to bypass WPA2 network security they’re then capable of seeing information which is not encrypted and might be able to steal sensitive data because it goes through the network. Based on your network configuration, attackers might even have the ability to add ransomware or adware and spyware to websites.

    When I pointed out, attackers should be in close range towards the Wi-Fi system they are attempting to access. This will make it impossible for attacks to become transported from miles away. And even though it is feasible for attackers to merely sit inside a parking area before an outlet and connect high-powered wireless antennas, I’ve have been told by a few experts it isn’t prone to happen.

    If you are looking at more in-depth information about how exactly KRACK attacks work, check out Vanhoef’s report. I found The KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerability, described like you’re five to be really useful too.

    Exactly What Does This Suggest In My POS System?

    Several things might have to go without having to say, but with regards to the safety of the POS system, you shouldn’t assume anything. In case your POS product is operating via Wi-Fi and it is delivering/transmitting unencrypted data, it’s no longer safe, even when your network is password protected. (You most likely should not be delivering unencrypted data over your Wi-Fi network anyway, but that’s just my two cents.)

    If you work with a in your area-installed POS system, you have to pay especially close focus on this type of attack. It may seem that, since most legacy systems rely on wired systems, the body is protected. This type of misconception that may be potentially catastrophic. Children Mark Guagenti, a specialist from Tidal Commerce:

    “Security for [POS] systems has improved since 2004 [when WPA2 was introduced], however, that door has become open again. It just takes one device or misconfigured network to spread out in the whole system.”

    In 2013, when Target’s data breach affected 41 million customers, online hackers acquired access via the Heating and cooling system (that was on the network which had accessibility internal systems)! As well as in 2007, attackers could steal the data of 45.seven million debit and credit cards from the major store simply because T.J. Maxx didn’t update their data file encryption system. Whoops.

    Hopefully, we won’t use whatever huge, KRACK-based POS data breaches soon, especially since there’s a simple fix. But retailers must take this threat seriously. Double and triple look at your systems for the utmost safety. As Guagenti warns:

    “An attacker [could wreak real damage to a register, particularly if the software programs are outdated. They might poke and prod in the registers API, possibly run fraudulent transactions, open/close the money drawer, etc. They might also possibly enter into others such as the back-office computer.”

    Most newer iPad/Android-based cloud-based systems may be impacted by the attack. Fortunately, the harm ought to be minimal transactions are often fully encrypted finish-to-finish. As lengthy as the POS vendor is employing SSL/TLS (also referred to as HTTPS) file encryption and also you make use of the necessary updates and patches, your POS system ought to be safe!

    Can One Safeguard My POS System In The KRACK Attack?

    I understand I’ve colored a fairly harsh picture. Before you throw all of your Wi-Fi routers onto a bonfire, grab your pitchforks, and dirt off your pillaging attire, you need to know that—despite whatever you decide and read in certain articles—this WPA2 vulnerability doesn’t signify the finish around the globe. 

    WPA2 continues to be a safe and secure protocol. You are able to safeguard yourself in the KRACK attack by patching your devices using the security update for that KRACK exploit. As lengthy as you apply the patch, the body won’t be susceptible to this attack. This vulnerability can’t be fixed by altering your Wi-Fi password. You must make use of the security update patch first. Then you are able to (and really should) improve your Wi-Fi password.

    Take if from Guagenti:

    “Patch! Patch! Patch! Achieve to your POS vendor and request an update around the status of recent patches for that KRACK exploit. This is a period to inside it to make certain that your hardware, like iPads, wireless terminals, and wireless access points possess the latest firmware available. Associated with pension transfer security news, now’s [also] time to check on and make certain that the systems are encrypted with strong file encryption, possess the latest software, make use of the guidelines, and therefore are segmented to PCI standards so cardholder data exposure is minimal if any…[B]usiness proprietors [should] proceed to wired connections if at all possible, disable wireless access points, and wireless clients to avoid attacks.”

    Check out the vibrant side. Somewhat, this vulnerability could be a good factor! It possesses a opportunity for everybody to complete some pre-holiday security maintenance and tuning up. (Besides, when has strengthening your POS system security have you been an awful idea?)

    POS Security Safeguards Listing

    • Achieve to your POS vendor about patches for that KRACK attack. (Here’s every patch for that WPA2 exploit presently available.)
    • Patch all Wi-Fi devices/routers for that new KRACK exploit. (This is actually the listing of Wi-Fi routers which have patched the WPA2 flaw to date.)
    • Change to a wired web connection (if at all possible) until all patches are set up and security safeguards happen to be taken.
    • If you work with a hybrid-POS system, change to offline mode before the patch is created.
    • Refer To It As and make certain all wireless hardware and wireless access points possess the most current firmware.
    • Conduct an intensive audit of the entire network atmosphere.
    • Verify that software and firmware is current.
    • Make sure all communication and security settings.
    • Update all wireless devices employed for business (smartphones, iPads, tablets, laptops, etc.).
    • Verify that the POS provider is following PCI compliance standards.
    • Make certain all of your transaction information is transmitted over SSL/TLS file encryption.
    • Make sure that your POS vendor employs HTTPS.
    • Alert your employees to look for purchasers with laptops or smartphones who stand near to POS systems for suspiciously lengthy amounts of time.

    Final Ideas

    With regards to security as well as your POS system, you actually can’t be too careful. Unlike the cracks we prevented walking on within the third grade (for anxiety about causing serious back trouble for our moms), not implementing this KRACK attack seriously might have real effects.

    I recommend using the security steps provided in the following paragraphs as quickly as possible. Don’t finish up as being a victim on the small-scale. More to the point, don’t risk a significant data breach since you didn’t make use of a simple patch or undergo a regular security check-up. Determine what things you can do to maintain your personal devices protected from these attacks too. Better safe than sorry!  

    Elizabeth Cranston

    Elizabeth Cranston is really a author and native Oregonian who resides in the gorgeous Off-shore Northwest. She enjoys researching and becoming to the foot of questions relating to begin Purchase industry.If not covering and researching Reason for Purchase software, she will usually be located overindulging in Nederlander Bro’s coffee, making others laugh, or hearing music.

    Elizabeth Cranston
    Elizabeth Cranston
    Elizabeth Cranston

    “”

    The Reality Behind Free Charge Card Processing

    Truth behind free credit card processing imageFree. Free like a bird. Free as with beer. Whatever saying you affiliate using the word “free,” the thought of getting something for free has a unique appeal. Obviously, just about everyone has learned right now that nearly nothing that’s marketed to be “free” comes with no price of some type. Whether it’s offering your individual information to Facebook or simply having to pay hidden charges on something you thought would be free, there’s always a catch.

    Charge card processing services aren’t any different. You probably know this: every merchant is most likely just a little unhappy concerning the fact that they need to feel the hassle and cost of establishing a credit card merchant account so their clients may use charge cards. Getting to pay for the charge card processing charges whenever a customer utilizes a card causes it to be a whole lot worse. In a perfect world, having to pay having a charge card wouldn’t differ (or costlier) than having to pay with cash. Regrettably, within the real life, this really is not going to happen. Issuing banks basically need to loan customers the cash to pay for their charge card charges, which inevitably requires the risk they will not be compensated back. Charge card associations, likewise, only earn money by charging interchange charges whenever their cards are utilized. Because it stands today, someone has to cover charge card usage, which someone is nearly always you, the merchant.

    How can this be? The primary reason is the fact that customers shouldn’t need to pay extra only for utilizing their charge cards. If you wish to take advantage of the additional sales that allowing charge cards brings, you need to accept the trade-from absorbing the price of processing individuals transactions. With charge card usage soaring and customers more and more not really transporting money with them, this compromise may even work out to your benefit. Nevertheless, it is easy to transfer the price of charge card processing on your customers, a minimum of in many states. This practice is known as surcharging, although you’ll also listen to it known as zero-fee processing or something like that.

    Table of Contents

    How Surcharging Works:

    Surcharging is just the procedure for transferring the price of charge card processing on your customers by means of yet another fee that’s put into their bill once they develop a transaction. The very first factor you should know about surcharging is it isn’t legal in most jurisdictions. Presently, 41 states allow surcharging in a single form or any other, even though the needs you’ll need to meet to do this change from condition to condition. Nine states ban surcharging altogether. Here’s a summary of america in which you can’t surcharge:

    • Colorado
    • Connecticut
    • Florida
    • Kansas
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New You are able to
    • Oklahoma
    • Texas

    If you are located in certainly one of individuals states, you will not have the ability to surcharge whatsoever. If you’re located elsewhere but conduct business within the affected states, you will not have the ability to surcharge any transactions via individuals jurisdictions. California has additionally banned surcharging, however the statute was discovered to be unconstitutional in 2015 with a Federal court and it is presently unenforceable.

    Surcharging will also apply simply to charge card transactions. If your customer pays with debit cards, cash, or eCheck (ACH) payment, you can’t give a surcharge. You’ll need to have your charge card terminal (or POS system, virtual terminal, or payment gateway) established to only apply surcharges to transactions in which the customer is having to pay having a charge card. Any processor can perform this for you personally, although most traditional credit card merchant account providers don’t advertise the supply of surcharging. You’ll also need to provide notice for your customers that they’ll need to pay a surcharge for implementing their charge cards. Retailers can meet this requirement with signs and placards published within their business, while eCommerce retailers will need to include these details online.

    When you can surcharge with any processor, as well as your current provider, nowadays there are numerous companies available on the market specializing in supplying the things they call “free” or “zero-fee” charge card processing. We’ll check out a few of the more well-known zero-fee providers later in the following paragraphs. To understand more about surcharging and also the needs for applying it, please visit our article Every One Of Your Help guide to Charge Card Surcharges.

    Legalities:

    Surcharging hasn’t existed for very lengthy. In 2005, several retailers filed an enormous class-action suit (known as the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation) against Visa and MasterCard, alleging the charge card associations were charging unreasonably high interchange charges and stopping them from passing this cost onto consumers. A $7.25 billion settlement was arrived at this year that decreased interchange charges and permitted surcharging. This settlement was initially authorized by the Federal District Court judge, which is when surcharging (and firms specializing in configuring it) first made an appearance in this area. However, the settlement was overturned in June 2016 through the U . s . States Court of Appeals for that Second Circuit if this was challenged on appeal.

    Since that time, the situation continues to be appealed again, this time around towards the U . s . States Top Court. In March 2017, the final Court declined to listen to the situation. At this moment, the prior settlement is not valid and also the situation continues to be came back lower towards the District Court level, in which the parties will either must see trial or make an effort to achieve another settlement.

    Although this may all appear really perplexing (which is), the conclusion here would be that the practice of surcharging is on very shaky legal ground although this action remains litigated. The next court ruling could invalidate the practice altogether – departing retailers to scramble to regulate the way they purchase processing charges and most likely forcing most of the processors who focus on surcharging bankrupt. If you are considering surcharging your clients, you’ll want to understand this legal cloud and an eye on the progress of the suit.

    Pros and cons for Surcharging:

    Whether surcharging is not going anywhere soon, there are many issues you’ll be thinking about prior to deciding to begin using it. Here are the benefits and drawbacks you have to consider:

    PROS:

    • Lower costs for the business: Clearly, the main benefit of surcharging is it helps you save a lot of money, that ought to result in greater profits. At the very least, your clients is going to be having to pay your processing charges rather individuals, helping you save around 2.-3.5% on every transaction. You might, obviously, still need pay a variety of separate charges connected with preserving your credit card merchant account. Included in this are monthly account charges, annual charges, PCI compliance charges, yet others. However, some providers will help you to pass these charges on your customers too by charging a rather greater processing fee for every transaction.
    • It encourages your clients to make use of alternate payment methods: If customers know they’ll need to pay a surcharge to make use of their charge card, most of them will avoid having to pay extra by utilizing cash, debit cards, or perhaps a personal check. This benefits you too, because the surcharge isn’t likely to you anyway, which other payment methods cost little or free to process.

    CONS:

    • High possibility of lost sales: It ought to go without having to say that the customers will not be at liberty about getting to pay for a surcharge. Retailers happen to be having to pay processing charges for such a long time since most consumers simply don’t realize that it is extra to utilize a charge card. They’ve been resistant to this added expense, with no one likes to need to start having to pay for something that’s been free previously. A current poll discovered that 65% of respondents would stop utilizing their charge cards and depend on other payment methods when they needed to pay a surcharge.
    • Surcharging doesn’t eliminate all your credit card merchant account costs: As we’ve noted, you’ll still may need to pay all of the charges that inevitably include getting a free account. When you could possibly pass a few of the fixed charges on your customers, you’ll still result in such things as chargebacks, Address Verification Service (AVS) charges, and terminal lease charges. Additionally you cannot charge a surcharge greater than 4.%, that is under the particular processing fee that some providers charges you. Within this situation, you’ll need to make in the difference.
    • Legalities regarding surcharging: As we’ve noted above, there’s presently a legitimate cloud hanging over the concept of surcharging. Opt for the variations in condition law concerning the practice. While only nine states have banned it outright, you may expect the dpi to develop if surcharging gets to be more prevalent and consumers demand action using their condition legislatures.
    • Competitive disadvantage: You should know whether your competition are surcharging before you think about following a practice. Clearly, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll lose a minimum of some customers permanently should you surcharge along with other competing companies don’t.

    “Zero-Fee” Processing Providers:

    Using the charge card associations now allowing surcharging (a minimum of for now, and just under certain conditions), there are many processors joining the marketplace specializing in it. Obviously, you are able to surcharge making use of your current credit card merchant account provider, however these companies take proper care of everything establishing your bank account and equipment that you’d otherwise need to do yourself.

    Many of these companies bill their professional services as “free charge card processing” or “zero-fee processing.” The term “surcharging” is seldom used. This practice, obviously, is quite deceitful. They’re attempting to make you believe you’re in some way making your way around having to pay interchange charges, while in fact you’re really just passing them to your customers. Here are a few short profiles of the couple of from the more prominent zero-fee processors:

    ChargePass:

    ChargePass logo

    ChargePass is really a small provider headquartered in New You are able to City, New You are able to. The organization markets their service as “free” charge card processing. They support all major charge cards (including MasterCard, Visa, Discovery, and American Express). Additionally they support NFC-based payment methods for example Apple Pay, as well as offer EMV-compliant charge card terminals.

    ChargePass doesn’t disclose any one of their processing rates or charges online. Billing is month-to-month, without any lengthy-term contract with no early termination fee. You can try their Conditions and terms to see all the small print that pertains to their accounts. The organization sets your equipment to instantly use a discount for money payments. While account charges aren’t disclosed, additionally they provide a No-Fee Program. Should you join it, your clients pays a greater processing rate, that is then put on your monthly charges. Other choice is to pay for the monthly charges yourself, which enables your clients to pay for lower surcharges.

    The organization also provides a radio charge card terminal, a “web portal” (really an online terminal) that is included with a USB-connected magstripe readers, a mobile payments application, along with a magstripe card readers for the smartphone or tablet. Regrettably, their service doesn’t presently use eCommerce platforms.

    ChargePass mandates that retailers possess a minimum $10,000 monthly processing volume to become approved to have an account. While the organization markets to retailers and expertise, it seems that lots of their clients are taxi cabs along with other transportation providers (i.e., buses and shuttle vans).

    We couldn’t locate much feedback – negative or positive – about ChargePass. The organization doesn’t actually have a BBB profile. While the lack of complaints isn’t a lot of an endorsement, it’s a minimum of a great indication that ChargePass isn’t a gimmick. One factor we noted online was they imply their service will come in all 50 states. As we’ve noted, surcharging is presently illegal in nine states.

    Dynamic Payment Systems:

    Dynamic Payment Systems logo

    Dynamic Payment Systems is yet another “zero-fee” processing provider, situated in Traverse City, Michigan. In case your first impression of the company comes from their site, you most likely won’t want to use them. It’s quite awful, with lots of spelling and grammar errors in nearly every sentence on every page from the site. Nevertheless, they are doing disclose a bit more details about their service than many of their competitors. They list every condition where surcharging isn’t permitted, along with other limitations on the best way to use their service.

    The organization can accept charge card payments from Visa, MasterCard, and Uncover. It normally won’t allow an atm card or payments made using PayPal (it is because PayPal bans surcharging). Additionally they support eCommerce along with other card-not-present transactions. Dynamic Payment Systems offers a number of charge card terminals, such as the Verifone Vx520 and wireless Vx680 models. Regrettably, it seems that terminals are just available via a lease, that you simply should absolutely avoid. The organization also provides an online terminal and POS systems, that they will sell you outright.

    Dynamic Payment Systems seems to depend heavily on independent sales people to promote their professional services, and features a recruiting pitch for ISOs online. Although this practice doesn’t appear to possess generated any complaints, remember that independent agents through the processing industry possess a terrible status for misleading and dishonest sales practices.

    The organization doesn’t disclose any prices info on its website, however they seem to charge a set 3.45% processing charge on every transaction. If you would like the surcharge to visit toward covering your monthly charges, the speed increases to three.65% per transaction. These minute rates are particularly greater than you’ll usually pay with a classical processor, and therefore are most likely suggestive of the rates billed by other “zero-fee” processors. When you will not be having to pay these rates yourself, they’re definitely not going to aid in having your people to accept the thought of having to pay a surcharge for implementing their charge cards.

    Unless of course you go searching for the greater surcharge rate to pay for your charges, you’ll need to pay $5.00 monthly a account. You’ll also pay $6.99 monthly for PCI compliance, and perhaps equipment leasing charges too. Not quite “free,” could it be?

    Dynamic Payment Systems doesn’t seem to sell to specific business types, so we couldn’t find any negative feedback about the organization online. It normally won’t disclose the size of their contracts either, so look out for a lengthy-term hire a potential early termination fee (ETF).

    Shift Processing:

    Shift Processing logo

    Another “zero-fee” processing provider, Shift Processing offers both traditional and surcharged processing. The organization uses Pivotal Payments his or her backend processor, but seems to provide somewhat better terms overall. They don’t charge a yearly fee, and billing is month-to-month without any lengthy-term contracts. Additionally they claim that they can provide “free” equipment, but we’re very skeptical of the because it’s a typical misleading claim within the processing industry. There’s more often than not an expense mounted on equipment provided for you from your credit card merchant account provider.

    Shift Processing also advertises the supply of high-risk merchant services, but it isn’t obvious from their site whether surcharged processing can be obtained of these retailers. The organization offers a number of charge card terminals, including mixers support EMV and NFC-based payment methods. Prices isn’t disclosed, so be very cautious about unintentionally registering for a terminal lease.

    While the website includes a nice, professional appearance, it mostly contains marketing fluff and offers hardly any concrete information. Prices isn’t disclosed, and there isn’t any reference to prices models. You will find, obviously, lots of claims they have the “lowest rates.” They most likely don’t. This may not matter for you if you are likely to surcharge, however it could ultimately affect your main point here in case your customers choose that they’re having to pay an excessive amount of to make use of their charge cards and place their business elsewhere.

    The organization seems to promote to regional junk food chains, even though they declare that their “zero-fee” prices option works for almost any kind of business. Unlike another surcharging specialists we’ve profiled in the following paragraphs, Shift Processing has a number of testimonials from verified clients online. The organization does not have a BBB profile, so we weren’t capable of finding any negative feedback about the subject online. While the lack of negative feedback can often be a great sign – designed for a bigger company – we’re still suspicious given Shift Processing’s relatively small size.

    Final Ideas on “Zero-Fee” Processing:

    From the merchant’s perspective, it can make sense the customer should bear the additional price of utilizing a charge card. Customers have a wide range of payment methods to select from, and when they pick one that ultimately is more expensive to make use of, they should need to pay the additional expense associated with charge card processing. Regrettably, it is not how it operates within the real life. Customers have been receiving away without having to pay extra to make use of charge cards for such a long time that it is simply expected. Convincing the general public they should need to pay for something that’s formerly been freedom be a constant struggle.

    Alterations in preferred payment methods through the years allow it to be less likely that surcharging is ever going to gain prevalent public acceptance. It was not that lengthy ago that many consumers transported a checkbook along with a wallet filled with money with them wherever they went. It is not the situation today. Having to pay with cash has delivered dramatically recently, and paper checks are nearly a factor of history. Simultaneously, using debit and credit cards has soared. Since consumers could make NFC-based payments using their smartphones (as well as watches), it’s less likely that they’ll acquiesce to having to pay a surcharge or revert to classical payment methods.

    Overall, we’re simply not believing that surcharging your clients may be beneficial, so we doubt that it is ever likely to be advisable. Unless of course your competition happen to be surcharging, it’s probably that you’ll lose a lot of sales should you start surcharging. You may emerge ahead when the savings in processing charges over-shadow losing business, but on the other hand, you may shed more pounds money than it will save you.

    The legal uncertainty surrounding surcharging is yet another valid reason to prevent it. We actually won’t know before the class action lawsuit from the charge card associations is finally made the decision whether surcharging is not going anywhere soon. Even if it’s upheld, there’s still the chance that more states will proceed to ban the practice because of an outcry using their voters.

    We weren’t very impressed with the providers we checked out specializing in offering “zero-fee” processing. All of them seem to be really small firms that only have been around for any couple of years, and not one of them appear to possess established a status – bad or good – to assist their claims of having the ability to help you save money. Insufficient prices disclosures and frequent utilization of independent sales people are further reasons to step back.

    You will find, obviously, always exceptions. Certain specific business types, where surcharging has already been a typical practice, could possibly surcharge without experiencing a loss of revenue of economic. Taxi cabs along with other transportation companies, for instance, can frequently pull off surcharging because of the nature from the transaction. If you’ve just finished a cab ride and all you need to pay with is really a charge card, you will not cash choice but to pay for the surcharge too.

    Our final recommendation for retailers thinking about surcharging is by using your family processor – not among the companies focusing on it. It may need a bit more focus on your finish, but you’ll most likely have lower processing rates to pass through to your customers and (hopefully) better customer support. Additionally you won’t need to bother about switching providers.

    Have you ever had any knowledge about the companies profiled in the following paragraphs? Have you ever had any knowledge about surcharging generally? For those who have, please inform us about this within the comments section below. Thanks!

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