What Are Your Credit Card Merchant Statements Actually Saying?

Aug 2, 2011

Whether it’s due to a lack of time or an inability to understand what exactly all that fine print means, many small business owners aren’t reading their monthly credit card merchant statements and it could be costing them, according to CNNMoney’s Catherine Clifford.

“Few owners, however, have the time or inclination to make sense of the documents, which can be pages long with columns of teeny tiny numbers,” Clifford wrote in a recent article. “The problem? Some of those numbers could be higher fees or additional charges that can escape even the most eagle-eyed of owners.”

Small business owners who accept credit cards often work with third-party processors, known as merchant account providers or acquirers. These companies provide the payment terminals and take a percentage of every dollar charged in fees. Every month, the processors send out statements detailing every transaction and fee.

However, Clifford found, “these documents are so complicated that many small business owners can’t make heads or tails out of the charges. And many of them don’t have time to figure it out.”

By not reviewing these statements closely, small business owners could be missing new fees being charged by the credit card companies and the third-party processors. Small business owners do have options, though.

“Merchants can opt for processing contracts that are much simpler, with fewer tiers of charges,” Clifford learned from one expert. “What they gain in simplicity, they may lose in profits.”

To counter this, some small business owners may opt to accept cash only.

To read the complete CNNMoney article, click here.