Follow Best Practices for Best Merchant Rates

As we head into the start of a new year, now is a good time to review your card processing procedures. Many of the highest Interchange rates result from transactions that downgrade for preventable reasons. Please take a moment to review your card acceptance procedures and follow best practices as they are important in qualifying your transactions at the very lowest Interchange rates available.

Here are the most common issues:

  • If you are accepting key entered transactions, the most common cause of downgrades is due to missing AVS (address verification service) which looks to match the cardholder’s zip code at the time of authorization. Best practice: always enter the zip code. Check with your staff and your system to make sure you are entering and passing the zip code with each non-swiped card transaction.
  • Other reasons for transactions to downgrade to higher Interchange rates include a mismatch of Authorization and Settlement dollar amounts (except in certain industries where tips are allowed) and forced/offline transactions in which a previously obtained authorization code is key-entered to settle a transaction. Transactions also fail to qualify for the best Interchange rates when transactions are not settled in a timely manner (typically 1-3 days depending on your industry). Best practice: settle your batch every day and avoid obtaining pre-authorizations.
  • Non travel and entertainment merchants accepting commercial cards (Business, Corporate, Purchasing cards) should upgrade to a Level 3 payment gateway or virtual terminal. Level 3 refers to passing line item detail of the invoice with the standard payment data. Best practice: don’t use a retail terminal to process commercial cards. Vantage specializes in B2B transaction processing. Please contact us with any questions and visit for more information.

For personal assistance, give us a call at 800-397-2380 for a free consultation.


by Ty Hardison

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