Credit Card Processing FAQs

A merchant account is a commercial bank account that allows your business to accept and process credit cards and other non-cash transactions for payment.

Your business will have increased customer traffic, industry credibility, convenience and better sales results. Industry sources have found that accepting credit cards may boost your sales volume by 30 to 100 percent.

Complete the contact form [CF1] to request a quote for your merchant account. You may also call us at (585) 672-6381 for more information, setup assistance or any other questions.

A typical approval is handled within 24 hours, meaning you will be able to accept credit cards from your customers approximately one day after your application is received.

At a minimum, you will receive approval to accept Visa, MasterCard and the Discover Card. This includes accepting any check card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. In addition, you may request approval for American Express, Diners Club and Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) by completing a separate application. As a retail business, you can also sign up with our debit card services so you may accept most debit cards.

Once a transaction is approved, your customer’s charges are deposited from the credit card processor directly into your bank account. These transaction deposits usually occur within 24-72 hours from the original date of the transaction.

Customers always have the right to dispute a charge from the card’s issuing bank. If a customer challenges a charge, we send a retrieval request to you merchant asking for validation that the customer made the purchase. In addition, your credit card processor reserves the right to discontinue service to any merchant for a variety of reasons. You will also want to be familiar with the settlement process to guard your business against individuals buying or ordering merchandise with stolen cards. For a detailed explanation of charge backs and retrievals, read your merchant agreement thoroughly.

We strive to ensure that every applicant is given the greatest opportunity to qualify for our merchant services programs. Our free application process makes it quick and easy for you to apply.

  • A Sales Sense Payments merchant account enabling your business to accept major credit cards 
  • An Authorize.Net Payment Gateway script that you may integrate with your Web site allowing your customers to purchase items from your site around the clock without manually running the transactions 
  • An Authorize.Net Virtual Terminal for running transactions manually through your computer. 
  • Around the clock customer and technical support and our dedicated website where you may review your transactions, run customized reports and download your monthly statement.

With your Internet merchant account, we will provide you with the HTML code to transmit your customer’s information to our gateway. With that said, if you have a large number of products available online, you may find it easier to incorporate a shopping cart into your site. If you are just using the account as a virtual terminal, then you aren’t likely to require the shopping cart coding.

Our customer service representatives are on duty around the clock to provide assistance for you on your account.

Every credit card transaction through your merchant account, incurs interchange fees. The interchange fee pays for the credit card interchange process that occurs between the acquiring bank (the bank holding your merchant account) and the issuing bank (the bank that issued the customer’s credit card).

The stakeholders and principals of Visa and MasterCard, two publicly-traded companies, set interchange fees. Interchange fees are updated twice a year, in April and October.

The primary reason for having a variety of interchange categories is the amount of risk incurred. The lower the risk associated with a credit card transaction, the lower the interchange fee will be to process it. Likewise, if the risk connected to a transaction is high, the interchange fee will also be higher. A number of other factors contributing to the range of interchange fee categories include the type of business, average purchase price, monthly average sales and so on.

The acquiring bank (where the merchant’s account is held) pays the prescribed interchange reimbursement fees to the cardholder’s bank (issuing bank) using funds they collect from their merchants’ accounts.

As soon as you receive your credit card processing equipment, we will train you. You also have a customer service number to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help at any time.

We work with a wide array of merchants including e-commerce vendors, traditional retail storefront businesses, mail order/telephone order business, motel or other types of business, you need a merchant account so you can accept non-cash payments from your customers.

We offer a number of different types of terminals, equipment and software that may be suitable for your business. We will work with you to set you up with the best combination of equipment and software for your business.

Since we provide our merchants with the lowest possible rates we will only provide equipment to merchants who also use our credit card processing services.

  • Sales Sense Payments takes responsibility for equipment replacement and warranty service for the first thirty days after equipment purchase. All equipment purchased through Sales Sense Payments is covered under its respective manufacturer warranty. 
  • After thirty days, we help you contact the manufacturer for warranty service. 
  • New or unopened equipment is returnable, at your expense, within the first thirty (30) days of purchase. We charge a restocking fee of 15% to 25% of the purchase price upon return. 
  • Any equipment not returned in its original packaging with all cords, parts and manuals will be rejected and returned to you. No refund will be processed 
  • All software, gateway licensing fees, and any other set-up fees sold through Sales Sense Payments cannot be returned for a refund.

We charge you a monthly minimum fee if your merchant’s discount fee for that month does not meet the monthly minimum fee amount. Let’s say that your monthly minimum fee is $22.00, and your total discount fees for the month is $15.00. In that event, the processor will charge you $7.00 as a minimum monthly fee to make up the difference.

Your monthly fee includes the fees incurred for maintenance of the account for merchant technical support, toll free customer service, any online reporting and so on. This monthly fee is the fixed amount you pay to your payment processor.

Basis points, also sometimes known as the discount rate, are the set percentage of any sale that you pay to your merchant services provider to process credit card transactions. For example, you may be paying $12.00 (monthly fee) and 2 percent (the set discount rate/percentage/basis points) for every sale.

Basis points are a convenient way to compute the percentages since they are shown as 0.01% (or 1/100th of 1%). For example, a business with a basis point of 152 has a discount rate of 1.52% – what they pay per transaction – or another business may have a a basis point of 37, which would equal a discount rate of 0.37%.

AVS is part of the authorization process to help verify cardholders and prevent fraudulent transactions. The numerical portion of the customer’s address is sent with the transaction data and compared to the address listed by the issuer’s bank for the customer’s credit card. The authorization process sends back to the merchant a response code with their transaction approval or decline along with the address matching (or not matching as the case may be). As of this writing, an address match or mismatch is just reported back to the merchant’s terminal and may or may not result in a decline of the transaction depending on the settings at the POS system. As the merchant, you then can decide whether to contact your customer to verify the correct address before shipping any items or accepting the sale.

New Federal regulatory requirements, including the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 and Section 6050W of the Internal Revenue Code, mandate that payments processors must report all payment card transactions and third party network transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for every calendar year starting January 1, 2011.

Yes. When the payment processer files their annual information return with the IRS, they also provide each merchant with a matching Form 1099-K, listing their business’s monthly and annual gross sales.

Payment processors must match the merchant’s company name and associated Tax Identification Number to the IRS’ TIN-matching database as part of the recently instituted IRS requirement,. In supplying this information, the processor may need to communicate further with its merchants by email, USPS letters, telephone calls or other means to verify exact company names and the correct TIN. The fee associated with verifying the TIN information is the TIN Validation fee. Not every payment processor bills for this fee at this time but they have the ability to do so if they so wish.

You just need to make sure that your processor has the specific Tax Identification Number and business name that exactly matches with the information on file with the IRS database.

If a merchant does not keep their information (TIN and business name) up to date with their processors, that merchant will pay a penalty fee. This fee is the TIN invalid fee or the Regulatory Non-compliance fee.

Until just recently, non-bankcards were categorized as any card types other than Visa and MasterCard (such as American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB and Carte Blanche. The introduction of American Express’ OnePoint and Discover’s MAP (Merchant Acquiring Program) has loosened the definition to include these card types processed as bankcards.

All Sales Sense Payments merchant account applications cover Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club, Carte Blanche and JCB card acceptance. The application form includes an option to request approval to process American Express as well.

The benefits of accepting the American Express cards includes these two important ones: (a) About 14 percent of American Express card members carry no other charge card for making purchases and (b) A survey reports that 55 percent of American Express card members prefer to use only their American Express card as their card of choice in every transaction.

To add a new American Express merchant account, contact us at (585) 672-6381 and we will send you the form that needs to be filled out and emailed to mike@salessensepayments.com. We will then process your application for approval. After you are approved, we will give you an American Express account number for the best program for you and add it to your merchant account.

There are two major benefits of accepting Discover cards for payments: (a) JCB cards are accepted from any US merchants also accepting Discover cards – this is a future benefit as the JCB cards become more widely used and (b) Customers with Discover cards tend to seek out merchants who accept Discover cards over those that don’t accept Discover cards.

To begin accepting Discover cards, first contact our office at (585) 672-6381 and we will send you a form that needs to be filled out and emailed back to us at mike@salessensepayments.com. Once you are approved, we will send you your new Discover account number and add it to your merchant account with us.

In the past, these two card types were categorized as non-bankcards; they are now processed as bankcards with all merchants who accept Discover and MasterCard.

A debit transaction is method of electronic payment allowing cardholders to access funds immediately from their bank account using a debit card at a point of sale along with a Personal Identification Number (PIN). The customer must enter their PIN to authorize payment of goods; once the transaction is authorized, the money is debited right away from the customer’s bank account and credited to the merchant. This process gives customers the convenience to securely purchase products and services using their existing bank account (rather than using credit, carrying cash or a check book) while allowing merchants to provide more payment options and reduce their processing fees dramatically.

There are really four main benefits you will enjoy as a merchant accepting PIN-based debit transactions:

  • Reduced Processing Fees – You are only charged a flat rate for each PIN-based debit transaction rather than the basis point (discount fee) and per-transaction fees. 
  • Decreased Fraud – Purchases are authorized and finalized right away at the point of sale, limiting the potential losses found with other types of payments, such as paper checks or credit transactions. 
  • Not subject to credit card chargebacks – PIN-based debits have no chargeback facility. 
  • No downgrading – PIN-based debits are not assessed any downgrade fees often tacked onto credit card transactions that did not qualify for the best rate

The customer’s debit card must be swiped through a PIN Pad programmed with a unique encryption security code to process a PIN-based debit transaction. Rather than signing the receipt for a purchase, the customer is asked to enter their PIN number into the PIN Pad. The PIN pad encrypts the PIN number, then passes it on to the bank for instant verification.

There are two types of debit transactions: PIN-based (online) and signature-based (off-line). Debit cards carrying the VISA or MasterCard logo may be processed without entering a PIN code but with the customer’s signature, much like a credit card. These signature-based transactions are referred to as off-line debit transactions. For the merchant, there is no difference in how a credit card or an off-line debit card is processed. Funds are transferred from the consumer’s bank account right away just as in a PIN-based (on-line) debit transaction. The catch is that the merchant will be charged the same discount fees charged for the off-line debit transaction as for a credit card transactions, which could increase the overall expense of payment processing, based on the average ticket price of a transaction.

  • PIN-based Debits – The customer’s debit, ATM or check card, Personal Identification Number (PIN) and the merchant uses a magnetic-stripe reader at the POS for quick online debit transactions. The POS terminal gets an authorization directly from the card issuer, and the customer’s checking account is immediately debited for the amount of the transaction. The customer has a fast, convenient payment choice, while you get immediate funding, possibly a lower transaction fee and chargeback protection. 
  • Signature-based Debits – MasterCard and Visa-branded debit cards, also known as check cards, are usually accepted at any POS terminal where credit cards are accepted. Signature-based purchases (offline) are debited to the cardholder’s checking account within 2 to 3 business days rather than immediately as they are with PIN-based (online) transactions. A merchant pays a little more to process a signature-based transaction, it eliminates the customer cash-back option and receives virtually no protection against future chargebacks on the transaction.

Call Sales Sense Payments at(585) 672-6381 and request that your existing merchant account be changed to accept PIN-based (online) Debit/ATM cards. We will activate the debit payment type for your merchant account right away. After activating your account and getting your PIN pad (if you need one) you can start processing online debit transactions. This additional service has an additional monthly fee.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements ensuring that all merchants processing, storing or transmitting credit card information maintain a secure environment for the customer data. PCI DSS is a worldwide information security standard developed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). This standard helps organizations prevent credit card fraud through greater controls on credit card data at the source, the merchants handling the customer data, and subsequent exposure to misuse and compromise.

The Standard is available for your review on the PCI SSC’s Website.

PCI DSS Certification requires a complete review of your data security practices. The process analyzes your current credit cards processing steps looking for approved equipment, secure POS software and/or hosted Virtual Terminal meeting the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
To begin the PCI DSS certification process, visit the website listed here [CF2] and complete the questionnaire.

Merchants of all sizes are required to be PCI compliant. All of the payment brands collectively adopted PCI DSS as the foremost requirement for all organizations involved in processing, storing or transmitting cardholder data in connection with payment transactions. By definition, possessing a merchant account includes the ability to handle cardholder data securely.

Merchants of all sizes are required to be PCI compliant regardless of how many months in a year they are actively in business. All of the payment brands collectively adopted PCI DSS as the foremost requirement for all organizations involved in processing, storing or transmitting cardholder data in connection with payment transactions. By definition, possessing a merchant account includes the ability to handle cardholder data securely.

The PCI Security Standards Council has various requirement programs and it still requires that your account be certified for PCI compliance. The Payment Application Data Security Standards (PA-DSS) requirements designed to assist software vendors and others develop secure payment applications that comply with PCI DSS standards, do not store prohibited data such as full magnetic stripe, CVV2 or PIN data and ensure that new payment applications software supports compliance with the PCI DSS.

The MasterCard and Visa payment brands require all acquiring banks to report to them on the PCI Compliance of their subscribed merchants. If you choose not to complete the self-assessment questionnaire, you may not implement data security practices that lessen your risk of a security breach at your business. If your business is ever compromised, you may be subject to fines of up to $500,000 per payment brand. These fines are in addition to the expense and reimbursement of fraudulent transactions resulting from the breach.

The PCI compliance certificate you receive is effective for one year from the date the certificate is issued. You must complete the PCI DSS self-assessment questionnaire each year.

All new merchants must become PCI compliant within 90 days of the time their new merchant account is first approved.

If you began your PCI DSS analysis through a PCI vendor your processor selected for you and successfully passed, your processor is automatically notified that you are PCI Compliant and you have no further action. The only exception: If a quarterly scan of your system is required, you must run the scan manually or by schedule every 90 days to remain in compliance and avoid the non-compliance fee.

Contact your IT, site hosting, web development or other technical providers for help correcting any security issues the compliance scan or questionnaire brought to light. If they cannot help, contact us at (585) 672-6381.

Check Services are a type of payment service allowing online and traditional brick-and-mortar merchants to accept and process paper checks from consumer bank accounts safely and securely.

By accepting paper checks, you increase your credibility, your range of services, enhance customer convenience, and best of all, make more sales. Despite the popularity of credit cards and debit cards, statistics report that at least 40 percent of the US population is still totally paper check dependent!

Your level of service determines this the types of checks you may accept. For example, you could accept personal checks, corporate checks or even cash personal third party payroll checks.

The funds released by paper checks are deposited in your bank account electronically within two or three business days. There is no need for you to go to the bank to deposit the check itself.

The fees for using check services are usually lower than credit card processing fees and the exact fee depends on a variety of factors such as the monthly volume, type of business and others. Call us at (585) 672-6381 to determine the exact fee you would be charged.

There could be monthly fees and monthly minimums billed to your account, depending on the exact circumstances of your account.

A gift card or a loyalty card looks much like a plastic credit card and it is a reusable, stored-value card that gives you an electronic alternative to paper gift certificates and paper loyalty cards.

You can decide what reward levels to offer your customers when they reach a specific point level. The rewards themselves can be products, services, discounts or money added to the card that must be spent with you. The customer always can not redeem a given award and continue accumulating points in the program. You determine the awards and the award rules by which the cards are used and points accumulated. For example, for every dollar spent, the customer receives a corresponding reward point or points. Once the customer’s reward points reach a specific level, the customer gets a specified amount off their next purchase, a free coffee mug or other item. Gift cards and loyalty cards stimulate repeat business.

  1. The customer (gift card recipient) presents the gift card as a form of payment to you. 
  2. You select the appropriate program on terminal or POS system. 
  3. Merchant swipes the gift card through the terminal. 
  4. Merchant keys in the dollar amount to redeem from the card, if the spending amount is less than the balance on the card. 
  5. The transaction is processed and the sale amount is subtracted from the balance on the card. 
  6. The printed receipt shows the customer the revised balance on the card and the card is returned to the customer. 
  7. Transaction is complete.

Contact us explaining your question and don’t forget to include your business name, phone number and contact name. We will research the question as soon as possible and get back to you.