Wednesday, July 16, 2014

AMEX at the Same Rate as Visa and MasterCard -- Is it True?

Merchants may have been hearing over the past few months that some agents are claiming they can provide American Express transactions at the same low Qualified Rate as swiped Visa and MasterCard transactions. Well, yes and no. It had a lot to do with which network is handling the transactions, at least at the moment, and also what platform the transactions are being processed on.

Let me simplify this a bit. The first thing merchants should know is that only Global Payments affiliated providers are offering this low rate option for AMEX, not First Data network affiliates and probably not Paymentech, either. Merchants with a POS system that requires a First Data connection are currently out of luck unless they change systems. The good news is that merchant services providers like North American Bancard, Total Merchant Services and other processors that use the Global Payments network are already offering the reduced American Express rates to their new clients and rolling them out to existing clients.

For users of mobile "pay as you go" apps like Phone Swipe, PayAnywhere or Square, which use a simple swipe rate for all their card transactions, AMEX is already going through at the lower rate, which is 2.69% for NAB's Phone Swipe or 2.75% for Square. That is already less than most merchants had been paying for AMEX charges. But what of the promised 1.69% (or less) Qualified Rate for merchants on tiered processing?

This is where it gets muddy, but don't worry: it is still a lot cheaper than before. When a merchant has a standard contract and all its monthly fees, they also get much lower rates to offset those fees and, if they are processing over $3,000 each month, ought to see a net savings that improves as volume offsets the monthly fees. Such merchants may have a Qualified credit card rate of anywhere from 1.08% (plus dues and assessments and network fees) on up to around 1.79% or even more, depending on how the account was set up. What is happening now is that American Express is being priced at the same percentage as the other cards, but with a small catch.
The catch is that the other associated charges are slightly higher than the other card brands. Visa, MasterCard and Discover (and also the new PayPal card) all have additional little fees sneakily tacked on and passed through to merchants for things like "brand usage," "network access," "assessments," and more. And these tiny amounts add up. The fact is, each brand of card determines its own fees and to make it possible to sell lower rates, the processing companies take those out of their Qualified Rate and just pass the cost along to the merchant at the end of each statement, all lumped together. This is where merchants will notice that, yes, while their AMEX transactions have the same low rates, they still end up costing slightly more.

The bottom line, though, is that for merchants who take a lot of American Express cards, this new program can lead to a significant savings on the bottom line. Need another bonus? Turns out that the AMEX charges will also post along with the other card brands now, as well, which could be next day or within 48 hours, no longer requiring the additional day or two that American Express sometimes takes to make the deposits. All told, this is a lot of good news for merchants who are set up with the right plan and the right company. 

Consultations are always available, no pressure and no obligation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PayAnywhere Storefront POS-Lite Updates to Version 2.2

The Most Affordable POS System Just Got Upgraded

North American Bancard's PayAnywhere Storefront payment application for Android just got a major tweak. While it still is not a replacement for a full-POS system like Groovv or ShopKeep, it remains a perfect solution for small retail businesses that do not need the system to control the stock of hundreds of inventory items, maintain open checks or log employee hours. PayAnywhere Storefront still allows the input of inventory items for quick checkout (it just doesn't keep track of what is in stock) and offers a wide array of sales reports. But mostly it offers one of the most cost-effective checkout systems for merchants who want to keep low rates and low fees while still tapping into the most-wanted features of the higher-priced systems and taking advantage of added mobility.

New Features in PayAnywhere Storefront 2.2

  • Faster checkout! Merchants no longer have to press an extra button before swiping -- just run the card through the card reader and get that transaction going. There is also a novel new feature to

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Affordable Tablet POS Systems That Support Open Checks and Tips from Groovv and ShopKeep POS

Android and iOS based POS Systems perfect for small and mid-size restaurants, coffee shops, bars or any business that accepts tips or open tabs.

Most mobile credit card processing solutions are not able to handle tips or open checks (tabs) at all, acting strictly as the equivalent of a counter-top terminal for swiping or key-entering a single transaction. This works well enough for most people, who rarely will need modifiers of any sort. However, business owners wishing to move away from or avoid altogether the high-priced POS systems now are seeing viable options appear in the affordable tablet-based solutions entering the market.

While affordable solutions such as Harbortouch have begun presenting themselves in the market for full POS systems required for high-inventory merchants who need extensive employee tracking and reporting for the accountant, the mobile marketplace has seen an explosion recently with excellent retail solutions like