Your merchant services account is integral to the growth of your practice. If you already take credit and debit cards, you know that providing your customers with more payment options makes payments more convenient for them while also helping your cash flow and, ultimately, your bottom line.

How are card processing costs determined?
The cost of accepting card payments is driven primarily by interchange fees, which is set by the card networks: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Your cost per transaction is based on the card type, how you process the card, and the quality of the information you send the card network. To earn the lowest rate, you must give the card networks what they need to know to approve the transaction. When you send them less information, or incomplete information, the risk is higher for fraud or error, which can result in a higher transaction cost.

What can you do to minimize your processing costs?

  • Whenever possible, swipe the card. Swiped cards earn lower rates than hand-keyed transactions because they have a lower risk of error or fraud.
  • If you must hand-key a card-present transaction, answer every question prompted by the terminal. If you skip a step, the transaction will be downgraded, and you may pay a higher rate.
  • Avoid voice authorizations unless prompted by your terminal. Voice authorizations don't capture the electronic authorization codes to qualify for lower transaction rates.
  • Settle transactions as soon as possible after authorization. Settling card-present transactions in one day earns lower rates than waiting two or more days.
  • Don't misuse the authorization system just to check the status of a card account. Do a proper authorization when you know the transaction amount. If that's not possible, consider a "zero dollar" authorization, which is not free but is less costly than the transaction being downgraded and being charged a "misuse of authorization system" fee.
  • For card-not-present (CNP) sales, such as mail, Internet, or phone orders, make sure your point-of-sale device can accurately identify card-present versus CNP transactions when you key in customer information. You must use Address Verification Service (AVS) to get the best possible rate. For CNP transactions, AVS will ask you for an address and zip code.

To find out how the Wells Fargo Merchant Services AAHA payment processing program can provide more value and potential cost savings for your practice, please contact AAHA Member Services at 800-883-6301 or [email protected] for a FREE merchant process review!


This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Trends magazine.


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