Archives / 2012
  • Visa MasterCard Change Surcharging Rules

    As part of the Merchant Class Action Litigation Settlement, Visa and MasterCard will make changes to their merchant acceptance practices.

    Visa and MasterCard will change their rules effective January 27, 2013 pertaining to the surcharging of credit transactions at the point of sale. Please review the detailed communications on surcharging in their entirety at and

    In summary, and subject to any limitations identified on the above websites or in the upcoming rules changes, U.S. merchants may surcharge Visa and MasterCard credit card transactions (not debit or pre-paid card transactions) at the brand level or the product level, but not both, with the following conditions: (1) surcharges cannot exceed certain levels (generally the … more

  • Visa, MasterCard Settlement Order Appeal Rejected

    Upon preliminary approval of the largest antitrust settlement ever at $7.25 Billion, the end is nearing for the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation battle now in its seventh year. But some large retailers oppose the deal claiming they are being forced to forfeit their rights to sue over the card companies’ practices in the future. Filing their concerns in a federal appeals court to challenge the preliminary approval, a decision allowing plaintiffs to begin signing up more than 7 million eligible merchants, the court decided to defer the matter until after final judgment in the case had been issued, a decision expect late in 2013. more

  • Swipe-Fee Settlement Wins Preliminary Approval

    As expected, the federal judge has now granted preliminary approval of a $7.25 billion class-action settlement in the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case saying opponent’s arguments were not persuasive enough to derail the deal.

    Calling opponent’s concerns voiced so far "overstated", the U.S. District Court Judge did note the bar for preliminary approval is significantly lower than for final approval, a decision not expected until next year.

    Under the settlement, millions of merchants would receive payments totaling $6.05 billion. Those merchants on direct Interchange pass through pricing will also see a temporarily reduced swipe fee by an amount equal to $1.2 billion. And merchants in states that don’t prohibit by law will be … more

  • Hurricane Sandy reminds small businesses importance of disaster preparedness planning

    With Hurricane Sandy bearing down across the east coast, small businesses are reminded of the importance of disaster preparedness planning. And direct deposit paycards are an important part of any such plan.

    Both local and non-local emergencies can make receiving pay on payday difficult if not impossible for workers who aren't on direct deposit. When natural disasters occur in a hub city from which paychecks are mailed or air traffic is grounded, employees can not receive paper pay checks in a timely manner.

    Yet according to a recent NACHA study, small businesses account for nearly 50 percent paper checks written in the U.S., not including government checks. Research suggest that many of the paper checks written in the US are small B2B payments but 12 percent are for small business … more

  • IRS Merchant Services Tax Reporting Mandate

    According to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, beginning on January 1, 2012, Acquirers in the electronic payments industry were required to report credit card payments to the IRS.

    In addition, Acquirers are also responsible for performing backup withholding on any merchants whose information (name and tax ID) does not match IRS records.

    All merchants are encouraged to confirm that their merchant services provider has the most current, up to date and accurate TIN information on file. Merchants should consider submitting a copy of their W-9 form or a copy of the SS-4 form as part of the application process or upon any changes to their businesses legal structure that shows exactly how the merchant’s name is filed with the IRS therefore substantially reducing the … more

  • Vantage a proud sponsor of Small Business Saturday 2012

    American Express’ Small Business Saturday is scheduled for Saturday, November 24, 2012. Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is dedicated to driving sales to small businesses on one of the busiest holiday shopping weekends of the year.

    This year, American Express is giving small merchants that accept American Express® Cards free advertising and motivating consumers to make this the biggest day of the year for small business. Be one of the first to know when you can sign up for free ads and get your marketing materials for Small Business Saturday at

    Vantage is encouraging all merchants to sign up early and to promote Small Business Saturday. If you don't accept American Express currently, simply … more

  • showcases new payment technologies

    Vantage Card Services launches BankcardTerminals [+] as a new merchant service resource focused on the latest payment technology recommendations.

    Our passion has always been consulting with clients to help them identify, select and implement payment solutions to best meet their needs. With BankcardTerminals [+] we take the homework and feedback from working with others to showcase the best in class offerings on the market today. can help you plan your roadmap to the next generation of payment technology.

    Mobile commerce options are plentiful which means there is plenty to consider when making a decision.

    Virtual terminals and electronic invoicing solutions are delivered from the cloud providing feature rich solutions but deciding which one can be tricky.

    There … more

  • Interchange Lawsuit Update

    In the seven-year old Interchange lawsuit (Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case), a proposed settlement was announced on July 13, 2102, with an October 19, 2012 deadline to formally request approval from the court. If a preliminary approval is given at that time - a notice of the settlement will be sent to about 7 million U.S. merchants who accepted Visa or MasterCard credit cards since 2004. Then the judge overseeing the case must give a final approve before it can be implemented, which is not expected until the second half of 2013.

    In the meantime, opposition to the settlement has grown claiming the settlement doesn’t do enough for merchants. Some trade groups have announced plans to fight the settlement in court. Both Target and Wal-Mart … more

  • Will the Visa/MasterCard Interchange Fee Agreement Hold?

    If the proposed settlement in the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case is approved, merchants will receive billions of dollars, a temporary Interchange rate reduction and the ability to surcharge card payment transactions. In return, the agreement releases Visa and MasterCard from future legal claims regarding Interchange, network rules, merchant fees and related issues by merchants.

    Both the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores say they will oppose the agreement on the basis that the agreement does not address how Interchange is set or the complexity of Interchange fee schedules. Target and Wal-Mart are not plaintiffs in this case, but have criticized the proposed settlement for similar reasons and … more

  • Payment Card Usage Surcharges

    In the proposed settlement of the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case, merchants would win the ability to impose surcharges on customers who use card payments.

    However, according to analysis of the proposed settlement, the ability to surcharge customers includes numerous restrictions and requirements:

    The surcharge amount will be limited by a cap established by Visa and MasterCard and by card type (debit card surcharge allowances to differ from credit card surcharge allowances)

    Merchants will be required to notify Visa and MasterCard before surcharging begins.

    Merchants post signs notifying customers that they surcharge

    Merchants must include the surcharge amount of any fee on receipts

    Merchants are not allowing a surcharge on Visa and … more

  • 7 million retailers to share $7.25 billion proposed settlement

    An estimated 7 million retailers will be affected by a proposed settlement in the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case.

    According to Reuters, it has been announced that Visa and MasterCard along with their card issuing banks have agreed to settle the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case with U.S. retailers for $7.25 billion. If approved by the judge, it would be the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history.

    According to reports, the settlement will include provision to allow stores to surcharge customers extra in an attempt to steer customers toward less expensive payments (although certain states laws prohibit the practice), will pay stores $6 billion and will lower interchange fees by the equivalent of … more

  • PCI guidance for accepting payments using a smartphone

    Our PCI Compliance and Security partner ControlScan plans to integrate the SAQ P2PE-HW into our merchant portal by the end of the quarter, as it’s expected that P2PE certified solutions will be listed on the PCI SSC website later this year. We will alert our merchants as soon as the SAQ P2PE-HW is available.

    The PCI SSC Releases its P2PE SAQIn May the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) published a fact sheet to offer guidance for merchants evaluating technology to accept payments using a smartphone or iPad/tablet. The fact sheet explains how a point-to-point encryption (P2PE) solution can be leveraged to secure mobile payments.

    As a next step in its P2PE program, the SSC has released a P2PE Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). The new, reduced SAQ (SAQ P2PE-HW) is similar to SAQ … more

  • Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation

    Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc are moving closer to a settlement in a seven-year old case named In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation. Most analyst are predicting a settlement and possibly by the end of July. One of the possible settlement outcomes could be a reduction in interchange fees which is expected to have a negative impact on bank stocks. If your holding bank shares of major card issuers, be warned. If you are a small merchant, we will keep you posted here about what it means to you and anything you will need to do. more

  • Notes from Visa's Q2 2012 Earnings Call

    Visa posted positive double digit gains and says it will “live forever with less share than we once had” due to government regulations.

    Visa reported “very vibrant transaction growth rates in U.S. (consumer) credit” and also noted that their commercial credit card side is growing at a good clip. As expected, debit volume declined as banks deemphasized debit and removed rewards programs associated with debit cards that once played an important role in driving volume.

    Visa also said “the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division issued a civil investigative demand requesting additional information about PIN-authenticated Visa Debit and elements of our new debit strategies, including the fixed acquirer fee.” Visa says it is confident their actions … more

  • New April 2012 Interchange and Card Industry Fee Changes

    April 2012 Interchange and Card Industry Fee Changes As you know, Vantage provides the most transparent, direct pass-through of the payment industry’s universally established Interchange, Assessment and Access fee schedules.

    This April, a whole new set of card fees are being introduced. Vantage reports on and tracks these industry fee changes as they occur on our web site and this resource is often use by reporters and market analyst as well as merchants, businesses and banks. We also post about the payments industry and card Interchange on our blog. In July 2011 we first alerted merchants to the Visa announcement to charge a new location fee.

    Vantage passed through all the Fed regulated debit rates to our clients. We posted a Vantage Study Revealing the Results of Fed Regulated Debit in October. And while Vantage clients took … more

  • Global Payments Reports “Unauthorized Access”

    Global Payments identifies and self-reports unauthorized access into a small portion of its processing system limited to track 2 card data only (no track 1 card data, no names, no social security numbers and no bank account information was compromised).

    Global Payments reports incident does not involve our merchants or their relationships with their customers. Global Payments continues to provide uninterrupted processing services.

    ATLANTA March 30, 2012 – Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN), a leader in payment processing services, announced it identified and self-reported unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system. In early March 2012, the company determined card data may have been accessed. It immediately engaged external experts in information technology … more

  • Don’t Let Your Bank Hide Fees

    PayView Like his previous article discussing the merchant services industry, Michael Conticelli has done it again with a must read insightful report in the Ft. Myers Small Business Examiner titled “New trend in merchant statements hides rates and fees”.

    Michael specifically calls out SunTrust for purposely redesigning their merchant statements to eliminate all rate and fee detail, leaving merchants no clue as to how charges are calculated. SunTrust made the decision to keep merchants in the dark about their “surcharge fees, bill backs, annual fees, PCI fees, etc.” because when merchants “don’t actually see the rates and fees month after month” they can’t ask questions.

    Michael warns “Merchants need to be vigilant in monitoring their merchant … more

  • Vantage Launches New Merchant Services Portal

    Vantage Card Services Vantage Card Services [+] is a new merchant services portal for our valued clients to track and redeem their Vantage Points Rewards, explore PayView reporting and trends and access Support Center resources.

    Vantage is home to world-class payment solutions and features the best value package of price, terms, service, solutions and incentives available in the payments industry. This new merchant service [+] portal complements our Interchange [+] merchant rate pricing with PayView reporting.

    PayView is a monthly reporting tool that has been developed to provide even greater transparency into your card payment acceptance. Use PayView to explore stats and trends, chart your sales, manage your Interchange qualifications and track your effective "real rate" calculations over time. We welcome … more

  • April 2012 Interchange Modifications Impact B2B and Small Ticket


    Update 3/3/2011: MasterCard is creating new small ticket Interchange charge types as discussed below but NOT introducing new rates. MasterCard is implementing these new buckets for small ticket likely so they can track the volume separately from other regulated debit transactions. We expect that companies like USA Tech will continue to opt out of accepting MasterCard debit until they lower the small ticket debit Interchange rate.

    Vantage Card Services specializes in providing card payment processing services at direct and transparent Interchange pricing to merchants and businesses of all sizes.

    For our B2B and B2G clients, is a resource focused on the payment acceptance policies, strategies and best practices to lower cost, increase productivity and enhance security. An … more

  • MasterCard changes registration policy on limiting acceptance by card type

    Effective immediately, registration is no longer required for merchants that accept MasterCard who choose to accept Debit MasterCard Cards only, Other Cards only, or both Debit MasterCard Cards and Other Cards. At this time, Visa still requires registration of merchants who wish to limit acceptance to debit or credit only. more

  • Small Businesses are Missing Out on Debit Interchange Savings

    Small Businesses are Missing Out on Debit Interchange Savings In an article yesterday titled “Merchant service providers are the real winners under new debit fee caps”, Michael Conticelli highlights that processors are not required to pass on the lower Fed regulated debit Interchange rates – and because of this small businesses are not realizing the benefits of this legislation.

    Thanks Michael for helping call attention to this small business issue. Ever since this debit Interchange debate started we have been advocating for small businesses because we knew that while they were held up as the face of this legislation by mega retailer lobbyist, that the system was rigged against them.

    In October 2011 when the Fed debit rules went into effect, we posted "Durbin’s Debit a Trick or Treat for Small Merchants". … more

  • Paycards better for unbanked than prepaid, traditional checking

    Paycards better for unbanked than prepaid, traditional checking A recent article “Why Banks Shun 30 Million Americans” makes the case that banks are uninterested in the unbanked and underbanked customer and that mega-retailers don’t offer much long-term value.

    New federal regulations have impacted the banking industry’s business model of subsidizing once “free” services, driving banks to focus on “profitable” customers while discouraging others with higher fees on basic banking services.

    Big retailers have stepped in to profit on the unbanked by charging fees to cash checks and by selling prepaid debit cards. Retail fees charged for these services, when added up over time, can be just as high as maintaining a checking account.

    Yet one of the best solutions for the unbanked and underbanked was not … more

  • Searching for the Best Merchant Rates?

    Best Merchant Rates It’s what all merchants are looking for; who doesn't want the “best merchant rates”? The real question for merchants is how to go about achieving this while avoiding the pitfalls of selecting a poor service provider.

    To be the best, can you just claim it or buy the best domain name? The Best Merchant Rates may be an SEO search term, but a company name? Isn't that like naming your company “the best cola” instead of Coke or Pepsi? Do you trust a financial services company with a generic company name like “Merchant Services” or do you go with brand names like Bank of America or Costco?

    For small businesses looking for the best merchant rates, turning to mega-banks and mega-retailers is not their best choice. For example, Bank of America Merchant … more

by Ty Hardison

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