What does cash discount and surcharging processing mean for your business.
eMerchant Authority offers programs for business owners to help save you money on processing fees. One of the most popular programs for helping businesses cut down on their processing costs are cash discount and surcharging programs. There’s typically a fee for using a credit card, and the ability to offer a discount for cash payments has actually helped many business owners save more money than they initially thought.
What is a cash discount? A cash discount is a great way for you and your customers to save money. When you list your prices, only state the credit card price, then offer a discount to people who pay with cash.
What are surcharging fees? If your business posts “cash only” prices, then the surcharging fee is placed on orders that are paid for by credit card.
What Your Customer Sees
What’s the difference between the two?
A cash discount is usually more appealing to the customer because they end up paying less than the price that is stated, where a surcharging fee leaves them paying more. money.
One thing that is very important for business owners to remember is that whenever you charge a customer more money than what is originally listed, it is always referred to as credit card surcharge fee. Sometimes merchants will try to play it off like these are “service fees” or even adjustments for not having cash. As a business owner you should never do that because it goes against the compliance set in place with most major credit card companies (such as Mastercard and Visa). Always be honest when it comes to credit card surcharge fees or else you are at risk of a major penalty that could even have your business shut down.
The Rules That Major Credit Card Companies Put In Place
Visa has a rule in place when it comes to cash discounts and credit card surcharge fees, and many other credit card companies follow the same rule. Cash discounts are acceptable and don’t go against any compliance rules, as long as you’re clear about one important thing. The posted price of your product or service is always what you charge when a customer pays with their credit card. You are allowed to offer a cash discount to customers that is not posted.
However, it goes against Visa’s rules to do things the opposite way. You can’t post a price for cash, then add an additional charge for using a credit card.
How Important Are These Rules?
When it comes to cash discount and surcharging merchant processing rules, there are 2 main reasons you want to comply. The first is because surcharges are banned in certain states across the US. The other reason you need to pay attention to the rules is because of accidental (or possibly intentional) surcharge on debit cards.
States Where Credit Card Surcharges Are Not Allowed.
Cash discounts are legal in every state across the country. However, when it comes to credit card surcharges the following states have laws against it:
If your business is based in any of the states listed above and you included credit card surcharges then you have broken the law and put your business at risk of a major penalty. This could change in the future though, as many states have gone to court on the subject.
Surcharges on Debit Cards
This is another big no-no when it comes to implementing surcharges. It doesn’t matter how you title it or try to play it off, it always goes against the law to put a surcharge fee onto a debit card. Many business owners think it’s clever to title this as “non-cash adjustment” to get away with it. Anytime you attempt to disguise a surcharge fee on a debit card you are putting your business’s merchant account at risk.
What Happens If You Break These Rules?
The fact is that no matter how you try to spin it off, any time a business owner breaks a credit card surcharge compliance rule they have broken the law. Plain and simple, no gray areas. You can be as clever or as creative as it gets, but it’s still a law broken. Any time these rules are broken there is always a serious repercussion that could really affect how your business operates. Many businesses have had their merchant accounts shut down because of this. When that happens you can’t accept payments and it completely cuts off your incoming money.
Don’t think you can fool your customers either. Major credit card companies, such as Mastercard and Visa, have forms on their websites where customers can report any fees that were charged on their card for using it. It has never been easier for victims of false surcharge fees to point fingers in your direction. Many even take to social media to tell everyone they know about their negative experience they had with the company.
Make sure you are familiar with all the rules and legislations your state has in place for cash discounts and surcharging fees. This could save your merchant account and keep things on the positive side.
Are Cash Discounts A Better Alternative?
This one is pretty clear by now, there are no laws against offering a cash discount. Putting a cash discount in place is not only safer because it’s legal, but it’s also very easy to implement. Make sure all the prices that you have listed are for credit cards and then you can put your cash discount program into place. It’s that simple.
The best part about this option is that you won’t have to rearrange your products or menu to put this discount in place. All this means is that you are including the credit card processing fees into the price stated. Offering a cash discount is just a bonus for your customers at this point, and may even draw a few new ones into your establishment.
Even if credit card surcharges are legal in your state, it is still easier to implement a cash discount. Many customers aren’t happy to see extra fees added on their bill. They may give your cashier a difficult time and take their business elsewhere in the future. With cash discounts, the opposite happens. They are delighted to save a few bucks.
However, one tricky thing about the cash discount is that it may cause some customers to think that you are trying to avoid paying taxes. As long as you keep doing things the legal way then you will have nothing to worry about if your establishment gets vetted.
A Few more things you should know about cash discounts and credit card surcharge fees
The most important thing to remember is that you can only apply surcharges to credit card transactions and the cash discount is only a discount on the price that a cardholder would pay. To avoid trouble in the future, don’t try to bend these rules. The most important thing to remember is that you can only apply surcharges to credit card transactions and the cash discount is only a discount on the price that a cardholder would pay. To avoid trouble in the future, don’t try to bend these rules.
Cash discounts are 100 % legal everywhere in the country. (As long as the rules have been followed)
Credit card surcharges are only legal in certain states.
Credit card surcharges must never exceed 4 % of the sale.
If your business wants to start implementing surcharges then you must give your credit card processing provider at least 30 days notice.
In order to implement credit card surcharges you must place a notice on the business’s front door, all cash registers, and reciepts. No surprising your customers with an extra fee!
It goes against the rules to add a fee to the original price, then later give a discount to cash paying customers.
We Admit that these surcharge rules can be tricky to get right
Whether you are the merchant, the customer, or the payment processing provider, chances are you may be feeling confused about all the different outlines regarding cash discounts and credit card surcharges.
One of the trickiest parts about getting the rules right is that they keep changing. There is a growing interest in these programs, mainly because of all the legal activity surrounding them. Over the past couple of decades the laws have loosened up a bit, and some states that once prohibited surcharges now allow them.
Most credit card companies will point fingers at gas stations. A very important rule surrounding gas is that a business is never allowed to add any extra fee or surcharge onto the price of fuel. However, these aren’t the only types of businesses that major credit card retailers have their eyes on.
Visa in particular wants every business to know they have zero tolerance when it comes to surcharges in disguise. If a retailer puts a fee onto the standard price of an item then discounts that fee is going against their company compliance. There will always be a consequence when a merchant does this. To make it simple for everyone, anytime you add an additional fee it goes against their compliance.
Which is the better choice for merchants:
Cash Discounts vs. Credit Card Surcharging
The majority of people making purchases today are using their cards. A lot of people don’t carry cash for everyday shopping or big purchases. Even though cash discount programs are easier for the merchant, it seems as though most customers don’t even acknowledge there is one in place. Many retailers have even pointed out that they have advertised a cash discount program, but not a single customer has taken interest.
Laws for credit card surcharges are becoming more lenient, and some of the restricted states are pushing to get that law revoked. Society is leaning towards becoming cashless when shopping therefore the better choice for your business may be credit card surcharge fees. Most customers are not upset with the fee as long as they know beforehand.
The rules for surcharging are different between every credit card company. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these rules before you begin to implement surcharge fees. Surcharges are a risky business, and if you break any of the rules you could lose your merchant account for good. That being said, even though there are a lot of rules surrounding credit card surcharging fees they are not hard to follow. The credit card retailer that you do business with should be familiar with all the rules in place and will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding the subject. The more you know ahead of time, the less problems you will face later on.
A Little more inishgt on cash discounts & credit card surcharging
You probably still have a lot of questions surrounding the subject of cash discount programs and credit card surcharging rules. To be honest with you, the solutions you get will differ depending on who you ask. As a retailer, it’s important to know what you should expect when dealing with credit card networks and acquirers.
When it comes to dealing with surcharges and all the ins and outs of these programs, you need to seek advice from people who are experienced in the field. The experts at eMerchant Authority are just a phone call away. We are always ready to help guide you with any questions or concerns you have about cash discounts & surcharging merchant processing fees.
eMerchant Authority does business with all major credit card retailers and platforms. We have all the information you need to start off on the right track. Our experts will advise you on the compliance code and proper implantation practices so you stay out of trouble. You can easily sign up for one of these programs today.
Confusion About These Programs
It is important that merchants follow the rules put in place by their credit card processing provider to avoid any trouble in the future. There has been a lot of confusion about these rules, and many who have broken them didn’t believe they were doing so in the first place.
Major credit card companies have come to realize that there has been confusion. They don’t want to put genuine people out of business so they have put out a guideline of network rules for companies to follow. If there is any confusions always check with your credit card processing provider to clear up any questions and avoid penalties.
Even Merchants Need to Keep An Eye Out for Scammers
Most merchants are able to follow the guidelines of a cash discount. They see the benefits it has to offer because it helps them avoid some of the extra charges associated with credit card purchases. Unfortunately there’s always a scammer around that will see a way to profit off of these programs.
Since 4 percent seems to be the magic number, some scammers will try to raise their posted price by 4 percent of the sale so they can profit off of the program. Some merchants have even doubled down and added a surcharge fee on top of this for their card paying customers. A lot of times these extra charges go unnoticed, allowing the scammer to make a hefty profit.
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