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Can & Should I set a minimum charge amount?
There are several considerations, First what is legal? Second what do your terms of service for accepting credit cards permit? Third is it a good idea?
As of 2010 the Durbin amendment allows the Fed to set a minimum credit card purchase amount – currently $10. I didn’t find a law prohibiting debit cards – however most credit card issuers prohibit it in their terms – so when you agree to accept their cards you are agreeing to abide by those terms – potentially if you were only accepting a card type that did not prohibit it you could – however you need to treat all cards, banks, customers the same so if you are accepting all major cards you would be prohibited.
So Credit cards – yes, but debit cards – no; however just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s generally not popular with customers, so consider the impact. You should also look at what it is actually costing you – the amount may not add up to enough to deal with an unpopular policy. Do you know percent of your purchases are under $10? Also consider that you pay a much higher rate for a $1 purchase than a $9 or $10 purchase. For example if you have many purchase under $5 you could benefit more from such a policy than if they are closer to $10 or if you have very few purchase in this range.
Here are some examples of Interchange fees for purchases of $1 and $10 showing the effective rate interchange is costing you for the sale – keep in mind you will also pay processing fees in addition to interchange and that all processors pay interchange regardless of how they structure your pricing.
- Basic bank issued credit card $1 purchase = 5.65% in interchange
- Basic bank issued credit card $10 purchase = 2.05% in interchange
- UnRegulated Debit card $1 purchase = 5.55% in interchange
- UnRegulated Debit card $10 purchase = 1.95% in interchange
- Regulated Debit card $1 purchase = 22.05% in interchange
- Regulated Debit card $10 purchase = 2.25% in interchange
- Basic rewards card $1 purchase = 12.1% in interchange
- Basic rewards card $10 purchase = 3.1% in interchange
You may find marketing to be a better solution than implementing a minimum purchase amount. For example you could sign low cost items as 3 for special price to increase the sale amount/profit margin while lowering the interchange effective rate at the same time.
Even though you can only set a minimum purchase limit for credit card purchases the reality is that many consumers won’t differentiate between debit and credit and will comply with the policy regardless of payment method, if not paying by cash or check.
Ultimately you will have to determine if the potential reduction in your processing effective rate is worth the customer reaction to the policy – for some businesses it will be worthwhile for others it may not be.
Is a Smart Terminal Right for my Business?
Does your daily life require more than a flip phone? Maybe you business does as well. You don’t have to invest thousands into a full blown POS computer to improve how you take payments for your goods and services. New smart terminals can offer you more than just accepting a credit card. You can easily create a menu for your offering without any technical expertise allowing for simpler check out and data collection. A smart terminal can start out as simple to use as a basic card terminal while allowing you to expand at your own pace. You can accept signatures right on the the customer facing screen with the option to print, email, or text their receipt. You can even connect to a cash drawer and replace your cash register.
Other options include the ability to take an order anywhere in your business and not just at the counter, you can also take payments anywhere. For a restaurant you could take an order at the table, fire the order directly to a kitchen printer and move on to the next table where you can take another order or cash them out to turn the table more quickly.
There is also an app store where you can load apps such as POS software, time clock/scheduling apps, or loyalty programs. Additionally they can improve the image of your business with a modern look and easily accept payments however you customers want to pay from cash to contactless payments like Apple or Samsung Pay etc and of coarse traditional chip or bar code cards.
Are your AVS Fees out of Control?
A business owner reach out to me this week with a few questions, one was regarding AVS Fees, they are on Cash Discount processing, so would normally not have any processing fees, however their contract included an additional Address Verification Service (AVS) fee, typically this either passed on at cost ($.01) or is covered by the per transaction fee, in this case the fee is $1.95 every time they use the AVS – which is prompted for in all Card Not Present (CNP) transactions. For a delivery business, such as a Pizza restaurant or a Resort taking room deposits over the phone you could trigger this fee frequently. Not using the service could get your transaction downgraded and you will incur a higher fees
I don’t think it would be wise to recommend bypassing AVS, even though some believe it’s antiquated and sometimes results in lost revenue. I would recommend reaching out to your processor to see if terms can be re-negotiated to make sense for how you operate. In the case of the cash discount client a downgrade would adversely affect the processors margins. Where as in traditional processing it would affect the merchants margins and depending on the amount of the sale potentially more than the AVS fee. I could see where some merchants may choose to make a business decision to not utilize AVS in some situations if they have not had charge-backs and no merchandise is actually leaving their business – such as taking a deposit.
Don’t be in a rush to sign a contract on the spot – first ask what any fees listed are for and what triggers them to see how it will affect your business.