Skip to content

Credit Card Processing Fees


Hate credit card processing fees? We all do, including us, and we’re a credit card processor! There are so many fees, so many claims about pricing, and really, isn’t it your money? It is, but the service you’re paying for is magically getting that money into your bank account in 24-48 hours. It takes a wide, sophisticated network to make that happen. Within this network personal information and money is flying all over the place. We all take for granted getting paid from credit cards, it takes a lot of work and highly technical processes to ensure your money gets into your account safeley.  We take it for granted because of the solid, efficient network that has been built to protect you, the consumer, and the financial institutions involved. Unfortunately, at each stage of this network, someone is taking a little slice to help you securely and quickly make your sale.

Although there are fees that you will pay no matter what, you may be paying too much. Especially if you don’t know what to look for. In our experience at Swipe for a Cause, 75% of businesses do not understand their pricing and fees at all. And of the 25% that do, there are less than 1% that really, completely understand it. In other words, you’re not alone. Here is a list of some things to consider when looking at your credit card processing fees.

What to look for

The first place to look when examining your credit card processing fees is your statement and/or contract. How are you priced? What is your rate? What is your transaction cost? These are all in there somewhere, but you have to look. So what are some of the basics to get you started?

There are various pricing structures for credit card processing. For most businesses, the best one is interchange-plus. However, it isn’t always clear on your statement, so here are some tips on figuring it out.

1. What pricing structure are you set-up on, how do you tell?


Interchange-plus can look extremely confusing because there are over 900 different interchange rates. If you have a statement with all the fees displayed and see a “rate” or “discount”, you are probably on interchange-plus. It can be very hard to tell as some companies like to keep it confusing. To the average business, this can be overwhelming-causing frustration which misleads them to thinking the worst. However, interchange-plus with a reasonable “plus” is the best pricing model. The trick is finding the “plus” in all that gobbledygook. Need help? We do will do a free analysis for any business in the US. 


This has become more popular as online businesses enter the arena and make it easy for your “software” or tech devices to enable you to take credit cards. These models offer one rate. It is very simple and makes a lot of sense to the user. However, in order to make it simple-a large margin has to be placed into the pricing to ensure that the higher interchange rates don’t cause the processor to lose money. All processors are charged the interchange, when they charge you a fixed rate they pad it to make sure they don’t lose money. This padding-the majority of the time-makes them a lot more money which comes from your bottom-line.


This is where we processors can start playing games with you. Tiered is like fixed rate, but with more than 2 rates. They claim the cheaper cards will fall into one rate and the more expensive cards will fall into the other. They may use words like qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. The problem here is that there are 900+ interchange rates, when grossly simplifiying it-they have to pad the numbers like they did in fixed rate. Also, unless they spell out the interchange on your statement, you really have no idea what cards are going where. In most cases, an interchange-plus switch saves tiered pricing businesses money.

ERR or Billback:

This is the trickiest pricing model. ERR is often sold as a simple low rate. In reality, that rate only encompasses the cards that are less than the quoted rate. Any card above that rate is billed for the excess and usually “surcharged” for having to be billed separately. Sometimes businesses are charged daily for the original rate, then excess is billed at the end of the month. Many of those businesses think the end-of-the-month bill is their only fees. This tricks them into thinking they have very low credit card fees, when in fact they have been charged much higher than the other models. ERR can be tough to catch on a statement. Contact us if you suspect you may be on this pricing model.

2. What is your rate?

Your rate is a percentage charged by your credit card sales volume.

Interchange-plus: Your rate will be somewhere on your statement. It can be called many different things. Some include: “discount”, “processing”, or “qual rate”. There are many more. Our experts at Swipe for a Cause are here to help if you can’t find it.

Tiered: You will have a few different rates, but it may be difficult to figure out the markup if the actual interchange is not be shown. Our experts at Swipe for a Cause can assist if you have any questions. 

ERR/Billback: Here you will have to add up all the rates. Although they appear to be separate cards on the statement, in reality-you usually have to add them all together. Contact us and we will help figure it out for you.  

3. What is your per item (authorization and/or transaction) cost?

This is usually clear cut, but can be hidden. Sometimes fees that look like they’re legitimate card costs are marked up, sometimes you are charged twice-for the authorization and for the transaction, sometimes your told that there is no transaction cost, but it is bundled into something else. Again, our experts at Swipe for a Cause have assisted many businesses, just like yours, and will make sure you understand it before you have to ever sign on with us. Upload your statement for a free statement review. 

Credit Card Processing Fees are Confusing

They are confusing and designed to be that way because many companies like it that way! Not at Swipe for a Cause. The more you understand credit card processing, the more you see the value we bring.

People love us for more than just our pricing. They love our mission to raise funds for hospice, our attention in getting each business set-up correctly, and our customer service. At Swipe for a Cause, you will have a dedicated Account Executive that you can reach via phone or e-mail. Your Account Executive will know you and your business. Hate jumping from phone center rep to phone center rep at a call center? At Swipe for a Cause, that won’t happen.

Leave a Comment