Industry Terms: Monthly Minimum Fee

October 16, 2012

This is the latest installment in The Official Merchant Services Blog’s Knowledge Base effort. We want to make the payment processing industry’s terms and buzzwords clear. We want to remove any and all confusion merchants might have about how the industry works. Host Merchant Services promises: we deliver personal service and clarity. So we’re going to take some time to explain how everything works. This ongoing series is where we define industry related terms and slowly build up a knowledge base and as we get more and more of these completed, we’ll collect them in our resource archive for quick and easy access.

Today’s term is the Monthly Minimum Fee. This fee is one of the more confusing credit card processing fees because it’s not really a fee at all. A monthly minimum is more accurately described as a benchmark, or limit that may result in a fee, rather than as a fee itself. It indicates the minimum amount in fees that a processor will collect in any given month. If actual fees resulting from processing activity don’t meet or exceed the minimum amount, the processor will charge the difference in order to meet that minimum. For example, if a merchant has $50 in fees in a given month, and the account has a $75 monthly minimum on it, they will be charged an additional $25 in order to meet the monthly minimum.

Perhaps the most dangerous caveat with monthly minimums is that processors determine which fees count toward the minimum and which don’t. One processor, for example, may count all discount and credit card transaction fees toward the minimum while another may only count its discount rate.

Host Merchant Services differs from the competition in that it does not charge any type of monthly minimum fee for our merchant accounts.  We do not discriminate against small business merchants that may still be growing, by charging them for not doing enough business.  This is just another way that HMS differs from the competition, and excels in understanding customer needs.

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