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Need help with credit card processor rates

Non-qualified rates killing me.



5:18 pm on May 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The majority of our orders are placed via a website and maybe 25% of our orders over the phone. We process credit cards manually through Quickbooks and for the past several months we have not had any non-qualified charges. Everything was charged at the following qualified rates.

Visa/MC 2.4%
Amex 3.1%
Disc 1.0%

Yes, Discover really is 1%, too bad we don't have many discover card users. As of April 1st, we suddenly have a whopping 75% of our Visa/MC transactions being classified as non-qualified and given a 3.9% rate! I'm given the reasoning that business cards, some government cards, and rewards cards are higher risk or are costing the processor more. How can discover be at 1% and Visa/MC suddenly demand 3.9%? This is crazy. There must be somebody in the middle making a lot of money on us.

I found a couple of helpful links here

Does anyone have any recommendations for processors that have reasonable rates for non-qualified transactions? Also, if we do $75,000/mo in Visa/MC would we be able to get interchange-plus rates?

I'm going to request a rate review from our current processor, but I need some rate quotes from other processors to use as leverage.


1:04 am on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

a rate review won't help much - they'll never offer up interchange plus... you'll have to force them to

call a few processors and tell them your volume and that you want interchange plus - i found one in maine by googling the term - didn't end up using them, but they offered it - our volume is several times yours, don't know if that would matter...


2:33 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Definitely ask around. We checked in with our bank and they offered interchange plus from the start. *Much* better rates than our previous processor as well.

Corey Bryant

3:01 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Talk to your processor / agent to see what might be missing. Some MAPs changed their rules where you also have to add a tax - even if it is zero. This might be all you need



4:00 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Do the regulations on this site allow the mention of a specific payments processor? If they did I would suggest checking out a "friendly" site we have all heard of for payments that offers 2.9% + $0.30 for virtual terminal transactions.

The downside is the $20/mo. fee; how many 3.9% transactions would you have to avoid to make up the $20/mo.?


4:06 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

While business and rewards cards do result in increased fees, those fees are usually very small - a quarter of 1% or less.

Usually qualified vs. unqualified has to do with whether you are submitting correct address information with the transaction. A non-swiped, no address information transaction will always be non-qualified. You need at least to pass along the zipcode, if not more information to qualify for the qualified rate.


4:58 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How do you get Discover rates of 1%? Our Amex rate is 3.4% - how did you get such a low rate here too?


5:58 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>>Our Amex rate is 3.4% - how did you get such a low rate here too?

My amex rate is now lower than my visa/mc!


6:22 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How do you get Discover rates of 1%? Our Amex rate is 3.4%

American Express and Discover are referred to as non-bankcards in processing terminology. This means that they are not backed by an acquiring bank such as VISA and MasterCard, but are instead their own individual entities. With that said, depending on how your merchant account is set up - your merchant service provider may be tacking on a fee called a "non-bankcard processing fee" (which they may have to pay to their processing bank) to each AMEX, Discover, etc, transaction that is run through their system. To find whether or not you are charged this fee look at your merchant service agreement (that long exhaustive contract/agreement that you signed to open the account) and find your non-bankcard processing fee.

One of the easiest remedies to avoid non-bankcard processing charges is to look toward the non-bankcard providers for your processing needs. American Express and Discover will each provide a merchant with the capability to process all major credit cards including bankcards (VISA/MasterCard).

I think many of you will find the following links very helpful:

List of large acquiring banks from VISA:
Visa List [usa.visa.com]

[edited by: lorax at 12:53 pm (utc) on May 11, 2006]

[edited by: minnapple at 12:13 am (utc) on May 12, 2006]
[edit reason] Decrease page width [/edit]


7:32 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would suggest checking out a "friendly" site we have all heard of for payments that offers 2.9% + $0.30 for virtual terminal transactions.

Actually, (assuming we are talking about the same friendly site :) if you will be processing more than $10,000 per month, the rate would be 2.2% + $0.30 plus the $20 monthly fee.


11:19 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can someone sticky me this "friendly" site. Thanks.


12:57 am on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, can someone sticky me too? The last time I called Amex they said they could only lower from 3.5% to 3.4% - I process approx 50K/month with Amex - this is me calling Amex directly. I feel like I am the only one getting this high rate and I don't know why - I'm in a normal ecommerce biz - nothing risky - chargebacks are almost zero - I am getting ripppped off


4:05 am on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think Most of the reliable payment processors are within a pretty narrow margin of one another but they have flexibility, you can get a reasonable rate for that much amount if you put forward your request to them.


4:10 am on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am getting ripppped off



12:37 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Why am I not getting ripped off? Please explain and I'll retract the statement - saying "no" is a pretty short answer without merit


1:02 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In the UK your rates, via a merchant bank, are based solely on your turnover. I guess it must be different in the states but for the UK this posting of percentages is largely meaningless.


2:05 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


When a merchant account provider (whether it's a bank, an independent sales organization, AMEX, Discover, or otherwise) sets up a merchant account individual identification numbers are used to track the account. Each card originator (AMEX, VISA, Discover, etc.) attaches there own unique merchant identification number (MID) to the same account to track and differentiate their individual transactions.

For example, if you were to go to merchant provider "A" to obtain a merchant account and you opted to accept VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover - you would be granted a merchant account that had three unique MID numbers; one for VISA/MasterCard, one for AMEX, and one for Discover. If after a few months you decided that you wanted to switch merchant account providers from provider "A" to provider "B" only your VISA/MasterCard MID number would change with the switch to the new provider and your AMEX and Discover MIDs would remain the same and simply carry over.

This is the reason that you (or anyone else) is not getting ripped off. Only AMEX and Discover process AMEX and Discover transactions - the individual provider has no affect on the percentage that these two cards will process at because the MID for each always runs the transaction back to the originator regardless of the merchant account provider.

Why does the Discover processing rate vary from merchant to merchant?
A few posters have said that they have a substantially lower discount rate than others for Discover transactions and this is explained by Discovers qualification matrix. Discover is unique in the way that they operate on a tiered discount grid that is directly related to a merchant's average ticket.

Discover does not actually have a standard discount rate, instead, their processing rate will vary depending on the average ticket amount of the individual merchant for a specified time period. For example, a merchant with an average ticket of $20 will have a higher rate than a merchant with an average ticket of $1000.


8:59 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We are getting hit with a large amount of Visa Non-qual due to Visa Rewards cards are now getting charged at the non-qual discount rate. We've been happy with our Qual rate but if most cards are now going to be charged at the non-qual rate, this effectively doubles are discount rate.

We have a call in for a rate review. Could someone elaborate on Interchange Plus?


12:38 am on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Justgowithit -

I think you are understanding me wrong. Pretend I was a merchant that did not sign up for visa or mastercard - all I accepted was Amex. I am talking about the rate Amex charges directly to me - forget about my merchant bank - I don't care about their fees for this example. How do I receive higher rates (from Amex directly) than other net merchants when I am no more riskier and processing more per month than other merchants who are receiving lower rates?


4:09 am on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How do I receive higher rates (from Amex directly) than other net merchants

You don't. AMEX is not overcharging you.
The business model of American Express is based on card-issued benefits that the merchant pays for. The AMEX rate is going to run 3.4%+ regardless of volume --- anyone that says otherwise is simply misinterpreting their merchant statement.


5:08 am on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

justgowithit -

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question - you took a bothersome burden off my mind :-) Thanks again.


6:13 pm on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I just got a letter today - my rate is going to 3.15%. Does that mean I've made some progress, or are rates dropping generally with Amex?


6:16 pm on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Actually, Amex just told me my current rate is 2.9% . . . maybe it's time to drop them.


6:43 pm on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just got off the phone with these guys.

They claim:

-First and only rate increase in ten years!

Why does this make any sense? Fees with Visa, MC, Discover, PayPal, and Google Checkout only go down, in my experience. Considering the tech-heavy aspect of this business, their fees should approach free (see the recent article in Wired).

Since their fees are based on a percentage of my sales, not a fixed price, inflation has no effect here. Total nonsense.

-Our customers are loyal and will only buy from merchants who accept Amex.

Sure, because Amex gives them so much back in perks, because they charge us merchants so much to take their card. But I was once an Amex user (beyond just Costco, that is) and I would be happy to pull out my Visa for any place that didn't take my Amex. I really doubt people jump ship on that front.

-If you take our logo off your website, that's "suppression" and against our terms of service.

They had enough gall to actually hint that I should be careful if I try to de-emphasize their card on my site. God forbid I try to save myself 1.25% per transaction. Apparently, I've signed away my right to do that. So I have to cancel my entire account to get ride of these guys.

I realize that these guys as a group (credit card companies) have lobbied hard to earn their legal protections. You can't get a cash discount anywhere, because these guys have taken away that option with laws against different pricing for different payment mechanisms.

I think that Google Checkout and PayPal are maybe the Davids here. If they can get fees down, maybe we can push more business their ways. But I only see PayPal having a real edge, since they can do ACH transfers. For Google, they presumably just have rock-bottom fees, and then they layer that with a tiny add-on for their services.


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