5 Things to Watch For in a Merchant Agreement

5 Things to Watch For in a Merchant Agreement

If there is one piece of advice we can give merchants – and we do this on a daily basis – it is to read your merchant agreement.

We understand that it’s not a Stephen King novel nor is it War and Peace. It is the duty of an e-commerce merchant.

See, whenever a merchant account gets shut down by one of our acquiring banking partners, an angry phone call usually follows. Sometimes disgruntled merchants take to reviews sites.

“99 percent of the complaints we get are the result of a merchant not reading his or her merchant agreement,” said Wendy Jacques, Sales Manager at Instabill. “Some of our merchant agreements can be lengthy, depending on which acquiring banking partner with which we match the merchant. But there is a reason we ask each merchant partner to read their agreement. It has the answers to virtually every question they might have.”

We realize merchants will continue to file their merchant contracts in a drawer or file perhaps unlikely to be seen again. At the very least, however, merchants should watch for these five things in a merchant agreement.

1. Fees, Fees, Fees

There are a number of small fees for each merchant, dependent on a number of factors (industry type, acquiring bank, processing volume).

  • Chargeback fees: The penalty for incurring a chargeback, usually around $25 for a domestic bank or $50 for an offshore/international bank.
  • Refund fees: The fee for incurring a refund, around $2.
  • Payment gateway fees: The fee for use of a bank or processor’s payment gateway can be roughly $20 per month (domestic) or $50 (offshore).
  • Monthly statement fees: The fee for your bank or payment processor to send you monthly statements.

2. Monthly Volume Caps

The more sales you generate, the better for everyone right? Not exactly.

U.S. acquiring banks and payment processors have volume limits for particular merchant types prone to chargebacks, such as multilevel marketing, online pharmacies and nutraceutical products. Exceeding monthly volume limits could have penalties. Merchants, in this case, are urged to open a second merchant account.

3. Know Your Length of Contract

Merchants are consumed in their business, so we understand if they forget when their merchant contract expires. Instabill merchant agreements are usually for one year or three years, and renew automatically unless the merchant indicates otherwise.

4. Early Termination Fees

Length of your merchant contract segues nicely into our next point: Early termination fees. Should a merchant decide to break from his/her contract for whatever reason, they will incur an early termination fee, usually about $250 dependent on the bank.

5. Reserve Hold Times

Reserves are common with high risk merchant accounts. Acquiring banks need to protect themselves in case a merchant account is committing fraud or excessive chargebacks. High risk merchants may not see anything from their reserve for the first six months, until it is released in increments.

Ask Your Merchant Account Manager

At Instabill, our merchant account managers are on hand as your advisor throughout the life of our partnership. We believe in appointing the same account manager to handle your needs. Speak one-on-one with a merchant account expert at 1-800-318-2713.

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