6 Hidden Processing Fees to Watch Out For

We’ve broken down a comprehensive guide to all the ins and outs of these fees and we’ve even broken down exactly how you should be reading your payment processing statement to ensure you’re paying fairly. Even though it’s impossible to get rid of all your fees, it’s important to stay vigilant to protect yourself from hidden and illegal processing fees.

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but credit card processing fees are a necessary part of running a business. They’re a pain—confusing, complicated, irritating—but if you’re going to be processing credit cards, you’re going to be paying credit card processing fees. Luckily for you, we’ve already broken down a comprehensive guide to all the ins and outs of these fees and we’ve even broken down exactly how you should be reading your payment processing statement to ensure you’re paying fairly. Even though it’s impossible to get rid of all your fees, it’s important to stay vigilant to protect yourself from hidden and illegal processing fees.

There are six hidden fees that pop up most often on payment processing statements that you need to be on the lookout for:

1. PCI Compliance Fees

These fees will unfortunately be a repeat visitor on most payment processing statements. The only way to remove it is to prove your compliance to the payment card industry data security standards (or PCI DSS for short). However, if you’re getting charged more than $20/month for this, they’re taking you for a ride.

Luckily, this is an easy fee to ditch because most merchants are already PCI compliant based on the hardware and software they are using. All you have to do is visit myPCI.com and follow their steps to getting your certificate of compliance. While MyPCI will cost you (usually between $100 to $500 depending on your business), many processors offer a free PCI validation method, so be sure to ask your representative about the best way to prove your compliance.

2. Statement Fees

We know it’s crazy, but it’s part of the business. Most processors will charge you to read your statement each month, no matter how you receive them. If you’re still receiving paper statements, an easy way to reduce this fee is to make the switch to digital statements, but even that won’t remove these fees completely.

If you’re hoping to eliminate statement fees completely, this is something you’ll have to negotiate with your processor before signing your contract. Whether that time and effort is worth the few dollars you’ll save each month is up to you; just make sure you’re not paying too much extra for a report that costs processors nothing to create.

3. Monthly Minimum Fees

You know how your bank charges you if you dip below your minimum on a checking account? Well, processors have a similar fee that they can charge if you don’t process a certain amount throughout the month. Some processors will even charge these on a daily basis, meaning even if you don’t run a single transaction that day, you’ll pay as if you did!

These fees are especially concerning to business owners who are just getting started or who run seasonal businesses. If your processor requires monthly minimums, it may be time to switch.

4. Monthly Settlement Fee

You may have heard of a batch fee before, which is charged every time a batch of transactions is submitted for processing. In most cases, this occurs once per day and costs you about $0.10 per batch. It’s certainly not a large portion of the processing pie, but many processors compensate for that low fee by adding additional batching fees. Monthly settlement fees are exactly that. These fees are larger than a typical batch fee and are charged just once a month, but they don’t coincide with any action on the part of the processor.

A monthly settlement fee is sort of like a re-batching fee where the processor charges an additional per-transaction fee for every transaction throughout the month. Obviously, this can add up overtime, and it’s annoying the essentially pay the same fee twice, so be on the lookout for a monthly settlement fee in the fine print while reading over your next monthly statement.

5. Authorization or Transaction Fees

Depending on your processor, your processing rates are charged either on a per-authorization or a per-transaction basis. If you pay every time your customer swipes a card, then you’re getting hit with an authorization fee. However, if you pay for every completed transaction then you’re looking at a transaction fee. Both of these methods are normal and acceptable, so don’t think you’re being ripped off if your processor charges per authorization.

What you have to watch out for is if your processor is trying to sneak both per-transaction and per-authorization fees into your payment processing statement. It sounds crazy, but processors regularly assess fees for the card swipe and an additional fee when the transaction is completed. To the untrained eye, these charges won’t seem out of place in the processing statement. But if your processor is using this tactic, you’ll be paying double for no reason whatsoever.

6. Early Termination Fees

I know all of these fees sound like a lot, but luckily this last one only pertains to merchants looking to leave their current processing contract before the agreed upon end date. Cancelling your processor mid-contract is no easy feat, but unfortunately sometimes it just has to happen. If nothing else, it’s a learning process, and it will teach you exactly what you want out of your processor.

In general, early termination fees can cost anywhere from $100-$500 and come in the form of one of three fees: flat termination fees, prorated termination fees, or liquidated damages termination fees. However, there are several ways to reduce or even avoid early termination fees entirely as well as a proper way to end a contract before the end date.

Fees stink, there’s no doubt about that. But, it is always better to know what you’re paying rather than blindly accepting the cost at the end of your statement each month. Having an understanding of all the hidden fees that come with a payment processing contract increases your chances of being able to reduce some of those fees—or maybe even call out your processor for an illegal processing fee.

Bottom line, read that payment processing statement each month—you are paying for it after all—and make sure you really understand where all the fees are coming from.

Michael Seaman

Michael is the co-founder and CEO of Swipesum. A veteran of the payments industry, Michael and his brother Stephen have led Swipesum since its inception in 2016. In his free time, Michael likes to play with his two daughters and skateboard.

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