PCI Compliance Fee Explained

July 12, 2020

For all merchants whose business relies on credit card payments and eCommerce, data security during processing is of utmost importance. PCI compliance fee can be the best help in achieving that goal. It is worth learning more about it, though, since its usefulness depends on the sincerity and intentions of your processor.

What Is PCI Compliance

There are two essential abbreviations in the language of credit card processing services, and they usually go together. Those are PCI (Payment Card Industry) and DSS (Data Security Standards.) In short, the five largest credit card brands, Visa and MasterCard among them, create and enforce standards in the industry, with the aim of minimizing or eliminating risks of losses when paying with cards. Every merchant, regardless of the market he operates in, has to follow set rules if he wishes to be able to accept major cards, in other words, to be PCI compliant.

What Is the Best Way for Merchants to Stay Compliant?

It is not difficult to remain aligned with DSS, but it’s not the same for all niches of the economy. And it’s worth it since non-compliance can result in significant amounts in fees and even fines. A merchant who runs a retail business can simply fill out a questionnaire, providing information about the company and accepted types of payments.

Are the Requirements the Same for Online Businesses?

Not entirely. There is still the questionnaire. But companies that engage in eCommerce are also required to perform so-called passing vulnerability scans once in every three months. That scan has to be done by the entity approved by the industry’s governing body.

What If You’re Non-Compliant?

What happens in case your business doesn’t meet the standards? That depends on your merchant processing company. You may be charged a fee for non-complying with DSS, and the processor can justify it in several ways. The common one is that the money you have to pay is a penalty that goes straight to issuers of cards. That, however, is often false. Visa or MasterCard won’t punish you for not complying. What they will do is slap you with a hefty fine if your non-complying results in a data breach or some other security issue.

It is more likely than not that any non-compliance fee will be a clear profit for your credit card processor.

Services Your Business Should Be Looking For

There is no doubt that PCI compliance is a good thing for your company. But it is not a one-way street. When searching for the best credit card processing for small business, you shouldn’t only look at their merchant service rates, but also what they’re offering in terms of help in complying with DSS.

It’s Useful for Merchant Who Accepts Credit Card Payments to Have Support

When you’re paying fees as a merchant, the least you can expect is to get something back. All decent processors who understand that mutual success is required will provide you with help and support in complying with standards.

That can take the form of aiding you with filling the questionnaire, for example. Or with required scanning for vulnerabilities.

Another way of helping is charging a reasonable amount, which shouldn’t exceed about 100 dollars per year, give or take a dozen.

But Sometimes It’s Bogus

It is an age-old adage that there is no free lunch. The only thing that’s worse than paying for something is paying for something and getting nothing for it. And that’s precisely what happens if you choose a processor that takes away your money and doesn’t give anything in return.

In that case, there’s no real difference whether you’re paying for complying or for not doing so.

PCI Compliance Fee Is Not Always Mentioned in the Fine Print

Unless you’re entirely new in the arena of eCommerce payment options and contactless paying, you know how credit card processing works. Processing companies aren’t immune to charging hidden fees. That’s why it’s essential to always read the fine print in contracts when you’re applying for a merchant account. Many processors will not give you information about the fees when laying out contract details, so you’ll have to find out yourself. It’s better to do so on time.

It is, of course, possible for a processing company to leave details of complying to the merchants and not impose complying expenses at all, thus making itself more desirable to clients.

PCI Compliance Fee Is Usually Cheaper Than Non-Compliance Fees

If you’ve dealt with these costs before, you’ve probably seen that fees for complying are lower than those for not complying. There is a simple logic behind that. In most cases, non-compliance fees are just tools that processors use to force merchants to become compliant with the standards.

Complying With Security Standards is Important, But the Conditions Matter Too

All businesses who wish that their credit card payment processing runs smoothly should comply with the industry standards. That path is indeed a complex one, but if the processor provides a merchant with information and support, it’ll become much easier.

In the end, it comes down to you, the merchant, to navigate through the offers in the market and find the best partner for your business.

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