Interchange Plus Follow-Up

October 14, 2011

The Official Merchant Services Blog looks at an interesting opinion article we found on Practical E-Commerce. We recently did a 2-part series on the differences between Tiered Pricing plans and Interchange Plus pricing plans. And in it we heralded Interchange Plus and explained why Host Merchant Services uses what we feel is the superior pricing plan to benefit its merchants.

The article begins by introducing the author: “Contributor Phil Hinke is a credit-card veteran who now consults with merchants on lowering their processing costs. Hinke believes the credit card processing industry is often unfair to merchants. He believes the Durbin Amendment — which lowers debit card interchange rates — is fostering deceptive pricing practices by some merchant account providers. He explains his views in the article below.”

This bring together the topic of Merchant Account pricing plans with the Durbin Amendment, something The Official Merchant Services Blog has also been covering in detail. Deceptive pricing practices are something Host Merchant Services strives to overcome in the industry. And one of the key factors the company chose Interchange Plus pricing is because of the transparency which lets merchants see fees on their statements much better than tiered pricing plans.

But Mr. Hinke’s article is an eye-opener because it details ways in which even Interchange Plus pricing can be manipulated to hide fees from merchants: “I am a strong proponent of interchange-plus pricing and, to date, I have never recommend tiered pricing for merchants. (I addressed the differences between interchange-plus and tiered pricing at“Notable Views: Credit Card Veteran on ‘Onerous’ Processing Rates,” a previous article.) However, merchants on interchange-plus pricing can still be grossly overpaying for their card processing. In fact, of the hundreds of merchant statements I have analyzed, the majority of merchants that were overpaying were already on interchange plus, which gives merchants only the potential for fair prices — nothing more.

I recently showed a merchant who was already on interchange plus pricing that he could save money by changing to a provider with a higher processing rate. How could that be? The processing rate is just one of many costs the merchant pays. In this case, the merchant account provider had given the merchant what seemed to be an enticing rate. However, it also hit the merchant with copious monthly and annual fees. Those fees more than offset the rate savings.”

This is a compelling point. And one of the areas where Host Merchant Services is able to stay competitive. Interchange Plus is a tool that a Merchant Services Provider can use to give its customers fair prices. But it’s only a tool. MSPs can still do their best to mark up fees and manipulate the process for profit maximization. As Mr. Hinke points out Interchange Plus only gives merchants potential for fair pricing. It still needs a motivated, hungry MSP in place looking to save merchants money by taking advantage of the tool.

An MSP like Host Merchant Services utilizes that tool along with its overall philosophy to guarantee its merchants savings, transparency and customer service. In that way, Interchange Plus works for the merchant, because it is part of the overall plan to have merchants stick with the company because they are getting value for the services. As Chief Operations Officer Dan Honick often says to clients, “You stay with us because you’re happy.”

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