A credit card processing agreement form can hide terms and omit specific rates that could do significant financial harm to your business if unaddressed.
It’s your responsibility to make decisions that only benefit your business. So before it gets signed, sealed and delivered, take the following precautions and thoroughly assess your credit card processing agreement form.
Credit Card Processing Agreement Form Precautions
- Credit card processing forms are not always as they seem.
Typically these forms are filled with confusing language and unclear terms for individuals unfamiliar with the payment industry. If you fail to thoroughly read through a credit card processing form, you could easily overlook two harmful terms: the early exit and auto-renew clauses.
An auto-renew clause allows the provider to automatically enroll your business for another term unless ample notice is given prior to the contract expiration date. If you attempt to exit your contract outside the permitted time frame and have an early exit clause, you could face substantial fees to terminate your credit card processing form.
Both terms pose the potential for significant financial losses, and usually result in one of four decisions on your end.
- You could face surprise fees after signing the agreement form.
As mentioned, credit card processing forms can be unclear in their terms. While they will list the rate plan you are signing up with, other fees aren’t typically listed out. This gives providers the opportunity to charge you fees only after you’ve started processing with them. Here are a few examples:
- Inflated AVS: The Address Verification System is a security tool used to ultimately lower the wholesale cost (known as Interchange) of transactions. Although your credit card processing agreement form may mention the use of AVS and an associated fee, it may not explicitly list it. AVS should never exceed $0.01 per transaction, yet some unethical providers will charge up to $0.20.
- Annual PCI fee: Some providers charge a PCI compliance fee if their customers fail to verify compliance. Although most businesses aren’t required to verify this, providers use PCI as a means to increase their profits under the guise that it’s required.
- Inactivity fee: If your business doesn’t process transactions within a certain time frame, some providers charge a fee as a matter of convenience. This is different from a minimum-processing fee, which covers the cost to keep the merchant account open with the Payment Processor your provider works with.
Credit Card Processing Agreement Form Tips
- Look for month-to-month providers.
These flexible providers can’t lock you into a long-term agreement or penalize you for testing a new provider. You’ll always have the opportunity to switch to a provider that has your best interests at heart or can meet your changing needs.
- Ask to look at a sample billing statement.
A great way to weed out unethical providers is by taking a look at their sample statements to see if you can spot any questionable fees. You can judge how complicated or straightforward the provider truly is based on the complexity of the billing statement.
- Speak with a representative before signing.
Using the credit card processing agreement form and sample billing statement, ask questions to better understand the nature of the provider. A candid Q-and-A session will help determine the provider’s trustworthiness.
Have you ever been surprised with unexpected fees after signing a credit card processing agreement form? Tell us the fee name and cost in the comments section and we’ll verify whether it’s a legitimate processing fee.