I hereby renew my vows to card acceptance.

The term irreconcilable differences is often associated with divorce, but it also applies to the ongoing battles over card acceptance fees. I find the related litigation tiresome, so I am offering a different perspective below. However, I also share some litigation/regulation highlights elsewhere on my website, including something new from Colorado.

My Card Acceptance Experience

With Valentine’s Day looming in the United States, it seemed appropriate to use this blog post to declare my love of card payments from a supplier’s point of view. I do not receive the lowest fee out there, but, considering various factors, I would not expect royal treatment. I simply expect a fair deal. Rather than focusing on the fee alone, I view my entire value package—namely, electronic payments that I do not need to touch and a no-surprise, consistent fee. I am grateful, not disgruntled like many suppliers.

Relationships Can Go Wrong

I realize other card acceptance relationships might be rocky, even if they started blissfully. The romance can fade. There are suppliers who outgrow their acquiring partners and the initial deals. Others are wooed by rates that dazzle and cause an immediate attraction. Such rates could be masking an ugly side—low fees that are unattainable most of the time due to corresponding requirements a transaction must meet. If something looks too good to be true, it is worth uncovering the faults before committing.

Suppliers who have already committed to a tedious and/or unfair fee structure should weigh their options. Renegotiating a better deal might be possible. If the partnership cannot be saved (here enters irreconcilable differences again), the supplier should seek a business divorce and move on.

I have a business owner friend who did just that. He initially pursued card acceptance with his bank; it was a natural choice given the banking relationship. However, it quickly proved to be the wrong choice. A couple $1,000 transactions from two different customers ended up incurring fees amounting to nearly 7%! The same thing could have happened with a non-bank partner. The devil is in the details. Fortunately, this story has a good ending. He later switched to a different card acceptance route that works better for him.

 For suppliers, the key to loving card acceptance lies in finding the right acquiring partner and appreciating the entire value package. 

For suppliers, the key to loving card acceptance lies in finding the right acquiring partner and appreciating the entire value package. 

Advice to Suppliers

In the business-to-business (B2B) payments world, it is critical to find an acquirer who specializes in this space; Commercial Cards are unique and have more complexities. I invite industry providers and others to expand on this advice in the comments section below, but no bashing of another provider, please!

A supplier always has the option of forgoing card acceptance altogether, but other payment methods have costs, too, and other drawbacks. Suppliers tend to forget this. I encourage any supplier who is dissatisfied with card acceptance to channel their energy into:

  • evaluating the entire card acceptance value package for their business
  • understanding and calculating the costs of other payment methods
  • finding a different acquiring partner, if necessary

Let’s show a little love for the positive things payment cards have allowed businesses and consumers alike to do. If we really need to become riled up over something, look no further than the industry with unpredictable, ever-changing pricing; excessive fees; an unpleasant environment for customers; and inconsistent service. Need I say more? Airlines. They give everyone plenty of reasons to be disgruntled.


About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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