Progressive Payment Solutions

How to Find Affordable Credit Card Processing

How to Find Affordable Credit Card Processing

Unless your business is still trading in chickens, animal skins, or precious stones, you’re already accepting credit cards for payment–and thus incurring credit card processing fees. 

But any smart business will want to reduce these costs without eliminating important or essential services they need. But how can your business save money on credit card processing? Let us show you exactly what to do as well as how to save the most on credit card processing. 

First, let’s establish something your business needs to know about the processing industry.

Why affordable credit card processing matters

The fact is, there is simply no governing body for credit card processing. That means not all credit card processors (also known as merchant processors) charge the same; in fact, some credit card processors charge far more than others

That means your business could be paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars more per month for the same processing services.

But why is one processor more expensive than the other? One of the biggest reasons businesses might pay too much is the pricing structure their processor uses. We’ll break that down next.

Choose the best pricing structure

Without question, pricing structures play a large role in why some businesses save on credit card processing. A pricing structure is basically the way a business’ transactions are charged according to the processor.

There are two basic pricing structures: Tiered and Interchange Plus.

Tiered Pricing

With Tiered pricing, different types of transactions fall into different categories, known as “buckets”, or “tiers”. These four main categories are Debit Cards, Qualified Payments, Mid-Qualified Payments, and Non-Qualified Payments.

These different categories of transactions are priced at four different rates. While it may seem like this pricing structure is straight-forward, it’s actually not clear. That’s because the payment processor gets to largely decide which tier to assign transactions.

What this all means:
A payment processor might choose to assign most payments as “non-qualified”, thus assigning it a hefty 3.5% fee instead of a “qualified” fee of 2.3%. Do the math and you’ll quickly realize your business will pay way more for Tiered Pricing compared to Interchange Plus, which we’ll look at next.

Interchange Plus Pricing

Interchange Plus Pricing is less expensive because of how simple and clear it is: a business pays for the two basic costs from each transaction at the same low rate.

  • The first cost what the major card networks (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover) charge for using their services, which is the “Interchange” part of the equation
  • The second cost is the price of processing the payment from your merchant processor, which is the “Plus” part.

What this all means: 

Interchange Plus pricing is almost always a more affordable pricing structure. The only time this isn’t the case is if the business is only processing a few thousand dollars a month or less.

So unless you’re only a hobby business or a side-hustle, make sure your merchant processor is using an Interchange Plus pricing structure for your business.

Your business can also achieve affordable credit card processing by reducing your fees. We’ll show you how in the next section.

Negotiate your processing fees

Some fees are unchangeable. Banks, card networks, and merchant processors will always charge these essential processing fees. However, some fees can be avoided while others can be negotiated.

How? Talk over your fees with your merchant processor as you’re negotiating your credit card processing contract to make sure it’s in your favor by not charging you for services you don’t need, as well as getting a better fee rate for necessary services. 

(TIP: When in doubt, it’s always worth the extra time to see what different payment processors charge. This will help you gauge how much fees should cost.)

Here are some common credit card processing fees that are negotiable:

  • POS Software Fees: for using Point of Sale software provided by the payment processor to keep your system updated and maintained. 
  • PIN Debit Network Fees: for accepting debit cards with Chip and PIN transactions. 
  • EBT fees: for accepting payments on Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT).
  • Monthly Minimum Fees: if you don’t process a certain volume or amount of transactions in a month. 
  • Non-Sufficient Funds Fee: if you’re not able to pay for processing services.
  • Payment Gateway Fee: for online payment transactions. 
  • Wireless fees: these include Wireless Per Item, Wireless Access Fees, and Wireless Activation–all of which are not necessary if you don’t need wireless payment terminals.

What this all means: If you want to have affordable credit card processing, you need to not pay fees for services you’re not going to use and also receive affordable rates for the services you do need.

Why your processor matters

You need to have an honest merchant processor that is easy to deal with. Why is that so important?

A helpful, honest merchant processor will not only save you money, but they need to be accessible. That means good customer service

After all, you’ll need to talk to them to make sure your business has an Interchange Plus pricing structure, negotiate or eliminate fees to your merchant processing contract, or receive guidance to help you make the best decisions to save you money.

What this all means: To save money on processing, you need a credit card processor that’s easy to get a hold of, provides clear explanations of their fees, and offers your business Interchange Plus pricing.

Zero-Fee Processing: a game-changer for affordable payment processing

Of course, there’s always going to be fees for accepting credit cards, as we mentioned above. So is zero-fee processing really possible?

It is, thanks to a 50-state legal provision found in the Durbin Amendment 2 (part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law). This amendment lets businesses offer a discount to customers to encourage them to pay with another method such as cash or check instead of using their credit/debit card. This is done by advertising the price of an item as the cash price–that is, if the customer pays in cash, that’s the price. 

Thus, Zero-Fee Processing is also called by another name: Cash Discounting. If the customer chooses to still pay with a credit card, they are charged the processing fees instead of your business. An extra line item appears on their receipt above their total displaying the NCC (non-cash charge) amount.

This system is quickly growing in popularity and is already commonplace with many businesses such as restaurants and gas stations. For many businesses, it has allowed them to save thousands of dollars each month on credit card processing.

What this all means: Your credit card processing costs can be eliminated if you choose to use Progressive Payment’s Cash Discounting Program. Not only is Cash Discounting approved in all 50 states, it’s also the most simple and effective way to save money each month on processing fees. Contact PPS today for more information on how it will work for your business.


Every business needs payment processing to accept credit cards, but not everyone is getting a good deal. The best payment processing agreements have an Interchange Plus pricing structure, low fees for services, and only include services that are needed. But the most affordable credit card processing agreements include Zero-Fee Processing, also known as Cash Discounting.

Contact Progressive Payment Solutions today to get credit card processing rates that are the lowest in the industry, to get started on Zero-Fee Processing, or to just see how we compare to other processors. Whatever your reason, we know you’ll like what you find.

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