Flat Rate (Dual Rate) Merchant Processing Service: The Benefits and Drawbacks
If you are a first-time or small business owner, then you may have heard of flat-rate credit card processing. Every business needs a provider for credit card processing, as it is one of the most important aspects of any business--the ability to accept payments. However, choosing a provider and a fee structure can be a challenge that takes time, energy, and research. If you’re going to succeed, then you need to be familiar with every type of processing service and why they might be suitable for you. One of the most popular services purchased by small businesses when it comes to credit card pressing is flat-rate credit card processing.
Flat-rate credit card processing has many benefits, but it's not the right situation for every business. This brief analysis of flat-rate credit card processing will give you some insight that helps you decide whether flat-rate credit card processing is the right option for you, or if it's a bad choice for your specific business.
Credit card processing isn’t always the easiest concept or industry to understand
As a business owner, you are already aware of some of the struggles that you can experience when trying to determine a credit card processing provider. It is one of the most difficult things to do as a business owner, especially if you are trying to estimate the cost of accepting credit cards using a merchant services provider. Determining these costs can be difficult, which is why some business owners are drawn to a flat-rate processing model where the pricing is easier to understand.
However, these decisions depend on so many factors that it becomes a time-consuming task to determine which pricing model is best for you. To make it easier, this article will serve as a knowledge base and guide to helping you understand the factors that go into this decision and what concepts you need to understand.
Definition of flat-rate credit card processing
The first important concept of credit card processing to know is what exactly flat-rate credit card processing is. If you’re going to determine if it is the right choice for you, then knowing what it entails is the first and most important step. With an understanding of what flat-rate credit card processing is, you’ll be well on your way to understanding it at a deep enough level to decide whether it is the right choice for you.
Credit card processing isn’t free. It costs the merchant a fee to implement and accept payment processing solutions. The variable here is what the cost is. Just like in any purchase, there are varying costs from different providers. Though consumers don’t consider it, it is the reality of being a business owner. In addition to trying to find the lowest fee, merchants also face the possibility that credit card processing fees will vary within the credit processing provider that they choose.
One of the most significant and common reasons for credit card processing fees to fluctuate is the various fees charged by Visa, Mastercard, and other suppliers for using the card. In addition, there are fees charged by the issuing bank for the transaction and there are a couple more mouths to feed along the way. There are hundreds of services that are involved in this process and each one takes a different sized bite. For this reason, credit card processing fees can often fluctuate and have business owners confused about what they are actually paying to process credit card transactions.
To simplify things and make it easier for the merchant to understand, credit card processing companies have begun to offer flat-rate credit card processing fees. With flat-rate credit card processing fees, merchants are more able to predict exactly what the cost of accepting credit cards will be and forecast that into their profits and margin calculations. It comes with many benefits, but it’s not right for every business.
Benefits of Flat-Price Processing
As you can imagine, there are many benefits to flat-rate processing and that is why it is so commonly used by businesses that are seeking simplicity in their processing arrangements. When you have flat-price processing, there are a few aspects to love about your credit card processing agreement.
The first benefit of using flat-rate credit card processing is being able to have a predictable credit card processing fee each month. With predictability in the rates that you are charged to process credit card transactions, you can not only plan your expenses better, but you can also price goods and services better to provide you with a more consistent margin.
When you know what your processing rate is going to be, the need to fluctuate your item pricing will disappear. You can plan ahead and be sure of what you are going to be charged to process credit card transactions.
When you have a flat-rate processing plan, another benefit that you will be entitled to is the flexibility that comes with these processing plans. With flat-rate credit card processing plans, you often don’t have to get locked into long-term commitments that hinder your flexibility and make it difficult to plan ahead. For small businesses looking for short-term credit card processing or to lessen the long-term overhead for their business, this is the ideal situation.
Flexibility is also a benefit to any business that might be considered high-risk or in general need of agility due to possible changes in the business model, revenue, and other aspects affecting their business.
When you work with a flat-rate credit card processing contract, one of the most important benefits is the simplicity of the contract. As we touched on earlier, traditional credit card processing agreements will often feature clauses, charges, and fees that you don't even have access to seeing the details on. For this reason, in those arrangements, you can never tell exactly what your credit card processing fee will end up being.
However, with a flat-rate processing plan, you can always understand what the fees are and exactly how they impact your business. You can plan to include enough margin for your processing fees and make it easier to understand the implications of your credit card processing agreement.
Who is a good candidate for flat-rate processing?
If you are considering flat-rate processing for your business, you probably want to know a bit more information about who is a good candidate for flat-rate processing and which businesses should pursue flat-rate processing for their processing needs. It is very easy to identify merchants that are good fits for flat-rate processing because of the straightforward nature of flat-rate processing.
Startups are the ideal businesses for flat-rate processing because they usually need to have less overhead and a shorter contract. Startups are often young and unstable, so having a processor that is flexible in the terms is ideal. Startups also typically have a lower volume of transactions. Many credit card processing companies have solutions that are specifically geared towards the needs of startups and young companies.
Small and local businesses are another frequent customer of flat-rate processing solutions. This is because small and local businesses typically have a much lower volume of transactions than larger companies and they are unable to attain better rates. In addition, small businesses are slightly more unstable and higher risk than other companies and don’t have the leverage to get favorable contracts with other processing solutions.
Businesses that are higher risk industries also tend to use flat-rate processing because they are subject to riskier transactions that could lead to increased fees by processing companies. If they are able to get an account with a flat-rate processor, then high-risk businesses typically take that opportunity because it is a favorable situation for them.
Doing better than flat-rate processing
For some, flat-rate processing simply isn’t a great option. This leaves many wondering if it’s possible to get a better deal than flat-rate processing. It’s true, there are some downsides to flat-rate processing and that is the reason that some choose to pursue other options. It is possible to get a better deal than flat-rate processing has to offer, but there are certain conditions that you have to meet.
The first condition that you have to meet if you want to get a better deal on your processing than what flat-rate processing has to offer is that you have to be able to do a high volume of transactions. The higher the volume, the better deal you are going to get on your processing.
Another condition that you will have to meet if you are going to get a better rate than what most flat-rate processing solutions have to offer is you will most likely have to sign a longer-term contract for your processing needs. This means less flexibility, but it is possible that you will get a better rate, though it will be dynamic and subject to change.
If you are a business that cannot get flat-rate processing or you do a high volume of transactions for an established and long-lasting business, then you can possibly get a better deal by going with a solution other than flat-rate processing.