Credit Cards F.A.Q...

To find an answer to any questions you might have, click on one of the frequently asked questions.

If your questions are not answered in this section, please feel free to Contact Us

General 
1 What do I need to accept credit cards at my business? 
2 Which cards can I accept besides Visa and MasterCard? 
3 What's the difference between a credit card and a debit card? 
4 Is it really worth it to accept credit cards?  
5 What is a payment gateway? 
6 Are there monthly minimums associated with accepting credit cards? 
7 What is a discount rate? 
8 What is Address Verification Service (AVS)? 
9 Will my business receive a statement that reports on the transactions processed? 
10 Can we transact in other currencies besides the US Currency? 
11 How are credit cards charged? 
12 Can I key in orders manually? 
13 Is it safe to process credit cards over the Internet?
14 How long do I need to wait for the proceeds of a deposit to be made available in my bank account? 
15 What Is an Authorization Number? 

Chargebacks 
16 What Is A Chargeback? 
17 Am I Liable for Chargebacks? 
18 What are some of the Different Types of Chargebacks? 
19 What Is My Responsibility? 
20 How much do chargebacks and retrievals cost me?

Credits 
21 What Is A Credit? 
22 Am I Required To Issue A Credit? 

Sales Drafts 
23 Do I Still Need A Sales Draft? 
24 What Do I Do with My Copies of the Sales Draft? 

1 Question:  What do I need to accept credit cards at my business? 

Answer:  

You don't need anything special to accept credit cards at your business.  You simply need to be approved for a merchant account.  About 98% of applications are approved for U.S. businesses.  While there are a few types businesses that are not approved, we DO approve retailers, service businesses, mail order, telephone order, Internet, home-based businesses and multi-level marketing businesses.

For complete information on merchant accounts, Contact Us.

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2 Question:  Which cards can I accept besides Visa and MasterCard?

Answer: 

Merchants are able to process Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, and JCB credit cards. In addition, retail merchants can accept debit/ATM cards issued by Interlink, Maestro, Pulse, Star and NYCE card system members.

For complete information on card types, Contact Us.

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3 Question:  What's the difference between a credit card and a debit card? 

Answer:      

A credit card is a card that lets a consumer access a pre approved line of credit funds set aside for a specified card user. When the purchase is made, and settlement occurs, funds are drawn from the credit line and deposited to the merchant's account.

A debit card is a payment card that withdraws funds directly from the cardholder's checking account or prepaid funds account.  There are two types of debit cards; PIN based debit cards that require customers to enter a PIN number to authorize payment and signature based debit cards.

In the case of signature based debit cards, online payment transactions work the same as credit cards.  Off-line retail point-of-sale signature based debit card payment transactions also work the same as credit cards with only a customer receipt signature required.  

Pin based debit cards used off-line for retail point-of-sale payment transactions require the customer to enter a PIN number into a PIN pad device and sign the terminal receipt. 

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4 Question: Is it really worth it to accept credit cards?  

Answer:      

Each business must decide for itself. However, merchants around the world rely on credit card acceptance to:

Increase sales: In general, your customers can and will spend more per sale with a credit card than with cash or checks.

Increase credibility: Consumers recognize that a business that accepts credit cards is a legitimate business, one in whom the credit card associations have "endorsed" by allowing them to participate in the credit card system.

Increase customer Convenience: Accepting a credit card is easy and fast. 

For simply completing the merchant account application approval process, you gain the benefits of this additional credibility and increased customer convenience. 

For complete information on merchant accounts, Contact Us.

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5 Question:  What is a payment gateway? 

Answer:      

Secure Payment Gateway companies help other Processors conduct secure business on the internet using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.  They provide a system that passes credit card data, authorization requests, and authorization responses over the internet using encryption technology.

Credit card transaction information is sent by the Payment Gateway secure server via leased lines to the credit card network where the validity of the card is checked and the availability of funds are verified.  An authorization code is returned via leased lines to the Payment Gateway.  The authorization is encrypted by the Payment Gateway and transmitted in encrypted form to the web server of the merchant, which triggers fulfillment of the order.

Rather than create their own Secure Web System, many Banks and Bank/Processor alliances will use a Secure Payment Gateway Provider to perform this task for them.

Our merchants connect direct to a Secure Payment Gateway.  There are no merchant gateway connection fees with our processor / providers. 

For complete information on card types, Contact Us.

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6 Question:  Are there monthly minimums associated with accepting credit cards? 

Answer:      

No, monthly minimum fees apply to merchants processing credit cards using our standard credit card processing pricing plans.  If you are a seasonal business or have a slow month with no credit card transactions, we do not charge you a minimum fee. 

The only exception to the monthly minimum payment processing fees are; 

  • Preferred credit card processing pricing plans 
  • Standard check guarantee service

For complete information on merchant accounts, Contact Us.

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7 Question:  What is a discount rate? 

Answer:      

The discount rate is the percentage of sales amount that the bankcard acquirer or travel and entertainment card issuer (i.e., American Express, etc) charges the merchant for the settlement of the transactions.  Discount rates are set by the "interchange" costs imposed by the credit card company associations. 

Differences in discount rates charged merchants are a result of several factors such as type of business, monthly card sales volume, type of transactions and the acquiring banks overhead and profit margin.  

Our discount rates are extremely competitive. Please Contact Us for assistance with determining the discount rate applicable for your business.

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8 Question:  What is Address Verification Service (AVS)? 

Answer:      

Address Verification Service (AVS) is a fraud prevention service that validates a cardholder's address (provided during a transaction) against the card issuer's records. This service is normally required as part of a credit card authorization for mail order/telephone order/Internet transactions. A code is returned with the authorization result that indicates the level of accuracy of the address match and helps secure the most favorable interchange rates. 

Note that if AVS returns a "no match" result, it is up to the merchant to decline the transaction, it is not stopped automatically by the processor.

AVS Codes Explained

X or Y - Match (good). Both the numeric address and the ZIP code match the issuing bank's database.

A - Partial match (address matches but the ZIP doesn't). Contact the customer and resolve the discrepancy.

W or Z - ZIP Matches but numeric address doesn't. Contact the customer.

N - Warning! Nothing matches, so there seems to be a problem here you should resolve with the customer.

G or U - The issuing bank doesn't support AVS. "G" is an international customer, so automatically we recommend greater vigilance against fraud.

Security Codes

Most credit card services also support Security Codes, often called by their Visa and MasterCard abbreviations, CVC2 and CVV2. These are printed on the reverse of virtually all Visa and MasterCard cards and on the front of America Express cards. The Visa CVV2 code (Card Verification Value 2) and MasterCard CVC2 code (Card Validation Code 2) are three-digits at the end of the account number printed in reverse italic type on the back of the card. For America Express, itís a four-digit code printed on the front of the cards over the embossed account number.

For complete information on card security, Contact Us.

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9 Question:  Will my business receive a statement that reports on the transactions processed? 

Answer:      

Merchants are provided accurate detailed reporting to account for the transactions they process, both for credit card and for all other electronic transactions we support.  Reporting on transactions is available in a variety of forms, and each has their own strengths:

Monthly Paper Statements summarize all activity for the merchant. These are mailed automatically at the beginning of each month.

On-line Transaction Reporting are available for all services, providing up to the minute, detailed information merchants can use to confirm payments, identify processing problems, and other issues.  A small monthly fee is charged for online reporting services.  

Note  Merchant America subscribers receive online reporting services without any added monthly fee cost.

For information on merchant transacting reporting, Contact Us.

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10 Question:  Can we transact in other currencies besides the US Currency? 

Answer:      

All funds received from our payment processing services will be in U.S. dollars.  This should not be a problem for merchants we serve since we only provide service to U.S. businesses. 

However, an international purchaser using a credit card will be billed in his home country in the currency used by that country.  U.S. based merchants get paid in dollars.  The international purchaser is billed in the other currency.  The credit card companies do the exchange electronically so you don't have to deal with non-U.S. currencies.

For more information Contact Us.

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11 Question:  How are credit cards cards charged? 

Answer:      

When you, the credit card merchant, want to accept a credit card for payment, the following process occurs: The following is a brief summary:

1) Merchant submits an "Authorization Transaction" to the card processor using your preferred processing system (POS terminal, PC software, virtual terminal, etc.)

2) Card Processor accesses the Visa/MasterCard network to communicate the authorization transaction (including the transaction amount) to the issuing bank.  This ensures that the card is valid and that the transaction amount does not exceed the cardholder's credit limit.

3) Besides authorizing the transaction, the authorization puts a "hold" for the transaction amount on the cardholder's credit limit. This makes sure the funds are available to the merchant when the transaction is completed.

4) If the authorization succeeds, the merchant will submit the deposit transaction to receive payment.  By doing this, the merchant is promising the processor, sponsoring bank, and issuing bank that the merchant is prepared to deliver the goods and services expected by the cardholder.

5) The card processor requests the issuing bank to deposit the net settlement amount into the merchant bank account at the sponsoring bank.

For questions about card processing, Contact Us.

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12 Question:  Can I key in orders manually? 

Answer:      

Yes, you can manually key in credit card orders in a Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal.  Merchants typically do these kinds of transactions when the card does not swipe properly in a retail business, or to conduct transactions for mail order or phone order businesses.  We offer other low-cost alternatives to POS terminals, such as processing by telephone or using a virtual terminal.

For complete information on processing methods, Contact Us.

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13 Question:  Is it safe to process credit cards over the Internet? 

Answer:      

Yes, it is safe for both merchants and customers.  However, there are  precautions that should be followed to minimize risks.

Our card processors use state-of-the-art Secure Socket Layer (SSL) systems that require credit card data be transmitted from the merchant (or merchant's ISP's) secure server in encrypted form. This ensures that no one can intercept the transaction and obtain sensitive information

For complete information about online merchant credit card processing, Contact Us.

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14 Question:  How long do I need to wait for the proceeds of a deposit to be made available in my bank account? 

Answer:      

Deposits to your bank account will be available at the sponsoring bank in two business days.  If you have designated another bank to receive deposit proceeds, then it will take an additional business day.  The funds from other cards deposited electronically are posted to your account in accordance with the terms of your agreements with those organizations.

For complete information on merchant account deposits, Contact Us.

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15 Question:  What Is an Authorization Number? 

Answer:      

An authorization number, whether obtained electronically through your POS system, your PC processing system, the Internet, or from a representative at the Visa/MasterCard authorization center, indicates that the transaction has credit available on the card and that the transaction is not disputed by the cardholder.

For more information about authorizations, Contact Us.

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16 Question:  What Is A Chargeback? 

Answer:      

A cardholder may dispute a charge for many reasons.  The cardholder is within his/her legal rights to begin procedures to dispute the charge up to six months after the date of sale, although in some cases the charge may be disputed up to 3 years after the sale.

For complete information on chargebacks, Contact Us.

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17 Question:  Am I Liable for Chargebacks? 

Answer:      

Yes, if the customer has a valid dispute with the charge in question and the merchant does not satisfactorily remedy the situation.  If, however, the customer doesnít have a valid dispute and the merchant complies with processing regulations, the merchant may not be liable.

For complete information on chargebacks, Contact Us.

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18 Question:   What are some of the Different Types of Chargebacks? 

Answer:   

A sale can be charged back for more than 35 valid reasons, the four most common are:

  • No signature on a draft

  • Failure to fulfill a request for a sales draft

  • No imprint on a draft

  • Unauthorized purchase

For information on fraud prevention that can prevent chargebacks, Contact Us.

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19 Question:  What Is My Responsibility?  

Answer:      

Merchants are required to locate the signed copy of the draft or other requested information and send a copy of it to the card processor within the time allowed.  Failure to do so will result in a Chargeback due to non-receipt of requested item.

Copies may be requested up to three years following the date of sale.

For complete information on merchant accounts, Contact Us.

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20 Question:  How much do chargebacks and retrievals cost me?

Answer:   

Cost vary among card processors, however for Merchant America subscribers, the first five chargebacks per month are free.  After the fifth, the processor charges a $5.00 fee per Chargeback or retrieval.  This fee is to cover expenses with processing.  To reverse a Chargeback, when it's possible, costs you nothing.

For complete information on chargebacks, Contact Us.

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21 Question:  What Is A Credit? 

Answer:      

A credit is a refund issued by a merchant to a legitimate customer due to a return, cancellation of a sale or entry error.  This transaction reduces your dayís processing total.

For complete information on credits, Contact Us.

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22 Question:  Am I Required To Issue A Credit? 

Answer:      

No. but even if it is store policy not to issue credits, your customer has the right to seek reimbursement through Chargeback procedures.

If a merchant store incurs excessive chargebacks, the merchant may be required to pay additional fees and, in extreme cases, have rights to accept VISA or MasterCard revoked. Therefore, a refund to one dissatisfied customer may be better than a potential Chargeback ó but merchant must make that decision.

Contact Us for information about Chargebacks.

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23 Question:  Do I Still Need A Sales Draft? 

Answer:      

Yes! For every face-to-face credit card sale, a sales draft must be completed.  This draft is a legal and binding contract between the merchant and customer.

If you have a POS system with a printer attached, it will automatically generate a sales draft for credit cards that are deposited electronically.  When the draft has finished printing, present it to the cardholder for signature. Give the cardholder the bottom copy of the draft and retain the top copy (with the original signature) for your files.

For complete information on sales drafts, Contact Us.

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24 Question:  What Do I Do with My Copies of the Sales Draft?

Answer:      

Merchants are required to keep sales drafts for three years (even if a merchant sells the business).  In the event of a question or Chargeback, a merchant may be required to produce the signed sales draft.  Merchants are advised to check with their accountant for guidance before destroying sales drafts.

For information on merchant sales drafts, Contact Us.

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