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Credit Card Merchant Rate

There are many factors that determine your credit card merchant rate. Any business that wants to accept credit cards and debit cards must obtain a merchant account. A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows a business to accept credit and debit card payments. Since most banks will not give a merchant account to a small business, the business owner must use a third party. These third party providers can be researched online and compared against each other to find the lowest rate. Be prepared to provide financial information on your company so that it can be assessed to find the best rate. Some of the factors that will affect the merchant rate are the type of business, number of years in business, the business owner's personal credit score, and total dollar amount of sales each month.

The largest merchant fee is the interchange fee. This fee is charged to the credit card issuing bank from the merchant account provider and is set by Visa and MasterCard. The interchange fee can vary according to the method used to input the credit card information (swiped or manually keyed), and card type. The simplest system for most merchants is the Three Tier Pricing System: Tier one (the rate charged for standard credit card purchases), Tier two (purchases that had to be manually keyed, cards that offer rewards programs, or business cards), and Tier three (all consumer card purchases completed without address verification, special cards used like business cards, and whenever the merchant fails to settle the daily batch within a predetermined timeframe). Merchant account providers also charge other fees, such as: authorization fees, statement fees, monthly maintenance fees, batch fees, annual fees, early termination fees, and chargeback fees. Your credit card merchant rate can include some or all of these charges.

Typically, the fees for retail merchant accounts are the lowest because most of the transactions were swiped. Credit card merchant rates can vary anywhere from 1.3 percent up to as much as 5 percent. Use an online tool that will let you input information about your company to the rates of several companies. This information should include the type of business, total dollar amount of sales, the number of years the business has been operating, and the percentage of sales generated from mail order and Internet.

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