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Frequently asked questions

Where do I start if I have never accepted credit cards before?

So you’re new to credit card processing?  Maybe you’re starting up a new business or maybe you finally decided you need to be able to accept.  Either way, we can help.

If you have no prior card processing history, here’s an overview of our program for new to processing businesses:

·     Interchange pricing (true cost as set by Visa/MC/D)

·     1% against processing volume or $1 per $1000 in charges

·      $.30 per authorization

·     $5 per month for statement fee

This puts you on par or better than national programs like Square, Stripe, and PayPal. But you can do even better with a little bit of legwork.

Just like we offer a 20% savings under our Wave Program, we will also offer a 20% off of any bid you from a bank or card processor. We don’t accept cut and paste data off a website, but we guarantee 20% savings on processing fees if you get a real bid from an actual provider of merchant services.

If you’re in a rush to get your account set up, go with the intro rate now and at any point in the future we will lower your rate if you provide the bid.

And don’t forget our Zing Program where you can eliminate all fees by offer a cash discount to your cash-paying customers.

Either way, AdvoCharge has you covered!

What is AdvoCharge, exactly?

AdvoCharge is an independent merchant service provider.  Essentially we are a broker, bringing you exceptional rates on card processing through our network and relationships with several different national credit card processors.  We have worked very hard to negotiate the lowest rates possible, and we pass those rates on to you.  Most agents within the merchant service industry align with just one processor, and thereby offer only the products and services of that one processor.  AdvoCharge, on the other hand, works with several different national card processors. While we tend to favor some processors over others, we work to determine what is the best processor for your business based on your individual business needs.

We establish a direct relationship for you to the processor, but we are there as a 2nd tier line of support that you don’t get with other processing providers.  You have full 24/7/365 access to the processors you are working with, but you also have AdvoCharge to contact if you are not getting the assistance you are expecting.  Additionally, we can help you integrate third party solutions that benefit your business.

How does AdvoCharge offer such low rates?

AdvoCharge has worked tirelessly to negotiate lower and lower rates, which we pass on to our customers. We seek to develop long term relationships with our clients by offering the best rate that is locked for the life of the account, along with exemplary customer support through our processing providers.  We take the approach that many, many happy, satisfied customers with outstanding rates are far better than a smaller number of clients that pay us through very high rates.  As a result, we have very low attrition as few clients ever leave us once they see how much we save them!

We also work to keep our overhead lean and our team small and focused.  You’ll notice we don’t promote our phone number as we want the majority of incoming contact to be by email.  We’ve found that we can remain even more responsive by directing incoming information requests through email, as we are able to route these requests to the right party within our organization who can answer quickly.

What is the Cash Discount Program?

Learn more about the Cash Discount program in greater detail on the Cash Discount Page.

How do I get a hold of you? I don’t see a phone number?

See the previous FAQ “How does AdvoCharge offer such low rates?”  We are very quick to respond to questions or requests when you email us at save@advocharge.com.

We understand that many of you want to talk to a “live person” right away, but remember you will have 800# support with your processor once your new account is established.  We’re just the initial step to secure your outstanding rates which will save you thousands of dollars year after year.  Hopefully using email for your initial contact is worth the savings we generate for you.

Will my current processor agree to match the AdvoCharge rate structure?

We have discovered that very few processors will agree to match our rate structure (or are even able to match) because our rates are below cost for the majority of processors and agents.  And even if they would, wouldn’t you rather work with a processing provider that gives you a good, honest rate to begin with rather than one that when beaten down, decides to match our rates?  We are sure that even if they match, they won’t beat us – no one ever has!

If I’m already with a processor you work with, can you still lower my rates?

We definitely can!  It’s a common misunderstanding that the merchant service industry is equitable and that a given processor has just one rate that they offer to all merchants.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  In fact, there are dozens of processors and thousands of agents in the industry that all have the right to set the price for a given merchant as they see fit.  Often times that means a wildly different rate structure for even very similar merchants.

The analogy of the airlines is a good comparison to the merchant service industry:  we’ve all come to expect that when we take our seat on an airplane that the price we paid is different from the price paid by the person sitting next to us or across the aisle.  Things like time booked before the flight, premier status, and airline promotion all influence that price.

The same is true in the merchant service industry.  Replace United or Southwest with FirstData or Elavon and the same pattern arises.  The processing rate you pay is largely dependent on the agent or provider you work with.  Fortunately you’ve found AdvoCharge, and we have some of the very lowest rates in the entire nation, so even if you are with FirstData now, we can take you right back to FirstData, but with a major savings over what you were previously paying.

What does the AdvoCharge no risk guarantee mean?

We strive to not only meet, but to exceed customer expectations. If for any reason you are unhappy with the service you receive from the processor where we set up your account, you are not bound by an early termination agreement and free to cancel the processor’s contract at anytime.  Unlike most processors, we’ve ensured that our clients have no cancellation or early termination fee with any of our processing relationships.  You really have nothing to lose and a whole lot to save by working with AdvoCharge!

Please note the processing fees are assessed in arrears, so you will be responsible for any service you have already received, but not for any fees beyond the point of your cancellation with the processor.  Some early AdvoCharge clients have unique fee-structure agreements with both the processor and AdvoCharge.  Those clients remain bound by the terms of those agreements, but then as it is now, in no way is there ever an early termination or cancellation fee with the card processors.

Do you have a contract term and cancellation fee?

AdvoCharge ensures there is no set-up, annual or cancellation fee with the processing provider agreement we broker for you.  We want you to be happy with your rates, service, and support; not shackled because you have a high cancellation fee that you can’t get out of.

Some early AdvoCharge clients have a unique fee-structure agreement known as the Advocate Fee where AdvoCharge was compensated by a percentage of the savings we were able to generate with our low rates over the merchant’s previous card processing fees.  Those clients remain bound by the terms of those agreements, but then as it is now, in no way is there ever an early termination or cancellation fee with the card processors.

How do I apply for a merchant account?

Signing up is simple and easy and takes approximately just 5 minutes. You will not need to print any documents because we have developed an intuitive online application with a virtual signature option.  Just click the Start Saving button below.  Complete some info on your business, upload a voided check for your deposit account as well as your current processing statement, and we’ll have you approved shortly.

Start Saving

How long will it take me to fill out the online merchant account?

Signing up is simple and easy and takes approximately 5 minutes.  Just click the link below.

Start Saving

Do I need to print the application and fax back?

You will not need to print any documents because we have developed an intuitive online application with a virtual signature option.

Start Saving

How long does the approval process take?

Generally, once an application is electronically signed, it takes a day to approve and then another 3-4 business days before the account is ready to accept payment.  We offer some of the lowest rates in the industry, and as such the underwriting time can be a little longer than the large aggregators like Square, Stripe, and PayPal.  But compare our rates to theirs and I’m sure you’ll see that the upfront wait will pay dividends many times over down the road.  To be clear, please do not expect to have an approved and processing account within 24 hours.  It will not work that fast.

Do you offer next day funding?

All merchant accounts are setup with next day funding at no additional charge. The next day funding cutoff is 9:30 PM EST.  All funds settled after this time will be ready in your account after one additional day.

What credit cards will I be able to accept with a merchant account from AdvoCharge?

You will be able to accept all card types: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.  We can even accept the Chinese card, Union Pay. Additionally, for most businesses your American Express sales will qualify for next day funding and will appear on the same monthly processing statement. However, business that accept in excess of $1,000,000 in annual American Express sales will continue to be funded directly through American Express.

What if I have less than perfect credit?

Underwriting makes determinations on a case by case basis. If you are not approved, AdvoCharge may have alternate options for account approval depending on your business type (see the FAQ titled “Are there any prohibited businesses to whom you cannot offer processing?”)

Can I use a smartphone, tablet or my computer to accept credit card payments?

Absolutely! All three come free of charge with every merchant account.  If you need a plug in card swiper, we offer those at our wholesale rates direct from the processor.

Do I need a business checking account to obtain a merchant account?

A business checking account is required for all business entities. If your business is established as a sole proprietor, you personal checking account is sufficient.

My e-Commerce website isn’t ready; can I still qualify for an account?

Maybe – you need to have a terms of service and privacy policy listed on your website to qualify. There should be a phone number and address posted as well.  We can often get you approved on a conditional basis that is lifted once your site is completed.

Do I need to provide a business license to obtain a merchant account?

Underwriting requires a completed online application including federal tax ID and/or SS# plus a voided check, but not necessarily a business license.  The voided check can simply be uploaded into our integrated application portal/center. Additionally, uploading a prior credit card processing statement is encouraged so that we can provide you with a post savings analysis after your first month of accepting credit card payments with AdvoCharge.

Do I need to have an American Express® or Discover® account before I apply?

We set you up for all card types, and there is no need to speak directly with American Express or Discover beforehand. Additionally, both card types qualify for next day funding.

Do you accept foreign businesses?

At this time we can only establish merchant accounts for those businesses based in either the US or Canada.  However we can offer Currency Conversion that allows you to accept payments in any of dozens of different currency types from your customers.  See the next FAQ (Do you offer currency conversion?)

Do you offer currency conversion?

Indeed we do!  Currency conversion allows a US-based company, particularly eCommerce retailers, to accept the local currencies from their customers in international markets where they promote and sell their products.  Here’s a list of currencies that you will be able to accept and convert back into US Dollars:

CURRENCY CODES

Currency Id Description
ARA Argentina
BUK Burma
CRK Croatia
SVC El Salvador
EEK Estonia
MGF Madagascar
MXP Mexico
GWP Guinea-Bissau
SKK Slovak
UGS Uganda
UYP Uruguay
ZMK Zambia
PLZ Poland
AED United Arab Emirates dirham
AFN Afghan afghani
ALL Albanian lek
ANG Netherlands Antillean guilder
AOA Angolan kwanza
AUD Australian dollar
AWG Aruban florin
BBD Barbados dollar
BDT Bangladeshi taka
BGN Bulgarian lev
BHD Bahraini dinar
BIF Burundian franc
BMD Bermudian dollar (customarily known as Bermuda dollar)
BND Brunei dollar
BOB Boliviano
BRL Brazilian real
BSD Bahamian dollar
BWP Botswana pula
BZD Belize dollar
CAD Canadian dollar
CHF Swiss franc
CLP Chilean peso
CNY Chinese yuan
COP Colombian peso
CRC Costa Rican colon
CUP Cuban peso
CVE Cape Verde escudo
CZK Czech koruna
DJF Djiboutian franc
DKK Danish krone
DOP Dominican peso
DZD Algerian dinar
EGP Egyptian pound
ETB Ethiopian birr
EUR Euro
FJD Fiji dollar
GBP Pound sterling
GHS Ghanaian cedi
GIP Gibraltar pound
GMD Gambian dalasi
GNF Guinean franc
GTQ Guatemalan quetzal
GYD Guyanese dollar
HKD Hong Kong dollar
HNL Honduran lempira
HTG Haitian gourde
HUF Hungarian forint
IDR Indonesian rupiah
ILS Israeli new shekel
INR Indian rupee
IQD Iraqi dinar
IRR Iranian rial
ISK Icelandic króna
JMD Jamaican dollar
JOD Jordanian dinar
JPY Japanese yen
KES Kenyan shilling
KPW North Korean won
KRW South Korean won
KWD Kuwaiti dinar
KYD Cayman Islands dollar
LAK Lao kip
LBP Lebanese pound
LKR Sri Lankan rupee
LRD Liberian dollar
LSL Lesotho loti
LTL Lithuanian litas
LVL Latvian lats
LYD Libyan dinar
MAD Moroccan dirham
MRO Mauritanian ouguiya
MUR Mauritian rupee
MVR Maldivian rufiyaa
MWK Malawian kwacha
MYR Malaysian ringgit
MZN Mozambican metical
NAD Namibian dollar
NGN Nigerian naira
NIO Nicaraguan córdoba
NOK Norwegian krone
NPR Nepalese rupee
NZD New Zealand dollar
OMR Omani rial
PAB Panamanian balboa
PEN Peruvian nuevo sol
PGK Papua New Guinean kina
PHP Philippine peso
PKR Pakistani rupee
PYG Paraguayan guaraní
QAR Qatari riyal
RON Romanian new leu
RUB Russian rouble
RWF Rwandan franc
SAR Saudi riyal
SCR Seychelles rupee
SDG Sudanese pound
SEK Swedish krona/kronor
SGD Singapore dollar
SLL Sierra Leonean leone
SOS Somali shilling
SRD Surinamese dollar
STD São Tomé and Príncipe dobra
SYP Syrian pound
SZL Swazi lilangeni
THB Thai baht
TND Tunisian dinar
TOP Tongan pa?anga
TRY Turkish lira
TTD Trinidad and Tobago dollar
TWD New Taiwan dollar
TZS Tanzanian shilling
USD United States dollar
VEF Venezuelan bolívar fuerte
VND Vietnamese dong
VUV Vanuatu vatu
WST Samoan tala
XCD East Caribbean dollar
XPF CFP franc
YER Yemeni rial
ZAR South African rand

Do you offer Level 2 and 3 processing?

We sure do!  Level 2 and 3 processing applies to those business that accept payment from other businesses.  If you collect a little bit of additional information like invoice and tax rate, you can qualify for a special Interchange rate on those B2B transactions.  Level 2 and 3 processing can save you significantly over what you had been paying to accept credit cards that were issued to other businesses.  We can help ensure you are collecting the correct information to take advantage of these rates.

Is there a customer service number I can call if I need help?

Absolutely! You will have access to 24/7/365 technical and customer support through whichever processing partner we establish for you.

How will I receive the proceeds from my transactions?

The checking account you provide us with will be funded on a daily basis for all sales batched/settled the previous day. All weekend sales will fund on the following Monday.  You may also choose to have one account that receives funds and another where the fees are removed.  Some business like to separate deposits and withdrawals, and we are happy to accommodate.

Will I receive a monthly statement?

You will be able to access and download your monthly processing statement through our robust back office portal that comes free of charge with every merchant account. If you enjoy having a monthly statement mailed to your home or business, that service is also provided upon request.

Are there any extra features that I will have access to with my merchant account?

Every AdvoCharge merchant account includes free mobile processing, a virtual terminal that is accessible from any internet connection, and a comprehensive back office portal for monitoring all sales activity.

What kinds of businesses does AdvoCharge accept as clients?

AdvoCharge accepts merchant applications from all business types. A very small percentage of accounts may fall into a higher risk category. Should your specific business fall into this category, an AdvoCharge representative will reach out to you once we are notified by underwriting.

Do you accept medical or recreational marijuana businesses?

While we recognize that there are many, legally operating businesses in the marijuana industry that abide by the laws of their state (including our home state of Colorado), unfortunately the banking industry has not been so progressive and remains unwilling to underwrite and board these businesses.  At this point in time, we are unable to find a home for your processing, but we are always looking for solutions for our future clients.  As soon as we are able to provide processing we will be sure to let your industry know!

Are there any prohibited businesses to whom you cannot offer processing?

While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part we are unable to board merchants in the following categories:

  • Adoption Agencies – for profit
  • Adult Entertainment
  • Bankruptcy Attorney
  • Pornography
  • Cigarette Sales
  • Collection Agencies, Refinancing of Debt
  • Counseling Centers (non-licensed)
  • Credit Restoration
  • Direct marketing – Travel related arrangement services
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Fortune tellers
  • Gun Sales on the Internet
  • Investor services/ Investment clubs
  • Sale of Stocks, Securities, Options and Other Investments
  • Investment Clubs or Investment Advice
  • Protection Services
  • Sexual Encounter Firms
  • Internet Gambling
  • Marijuana-related Business (see previous FAQ)

 

If you feel you have a legitimate business that could be misconstrued for one of the above listed business types, feel free to shoot us a note at save@advocharge.com.  Be sure to explain your business and tell us your projected processing volume and average sale amount.

Is the Cash Discount Program suitable for all businesses?

The Cash Discount Program is most ideal for businesses with low ticket sales, since you are passing your merchant processing fees to your customer. If your business doesn’t fall into this category, we invite you to explore our standard merchant processing offerings.

Is it legal to offer a Cash Discount?

As Mitchell Katz, spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, said in May of 2011: The Dodd-Frank law prohibits a payment card network such as Visa “from inhibiting the ability of anyone to provide a discount for payment by cash, checks, debit cards, or credit cards,” said Katz. “Neither surcharging, nor a cash discount is illegal.”

Why would I want to implement the Cash Discount Program?

Other than the ability to virtually eliminate your monthly processing fees, the Cash Discount Program can really help those businesses that are most impacted by high processing costs. Consider small ticket merchants like a sandwich or coffee shop. You may have an average transaction size of only $5-8 dollars (sometimes even less). The underlying Interchange cost on a debit card used as a credit card is .05% plus $.22 per transaction before any processor fees. If you accept a debit card on a $5 transaction, your effective rate (fees divided into the sale amount) will be $.2225 divided into $5 or 4.45% before paying any additional fees! Compare that to a business that has a $100 dollar average transaction where their total costs are $.27 so their effective rate is now only 0.027%. The same credit card was used for each transaction, but the overall impact to profit is radically different. Using the Cash Discount Program can mean the difference between a business that is profitable and one that is just squeaking by (or sadly, not squeaking by…)

Is this some kind of new program?

No, in fact it’s been around for decades in Europe and is used across the US in gas stations where a cash discount is offered at the pump. Gas stations have been using this program in the US for over 15 years. Many national, state and local governments including the DMV, Secretary of State, Post Offices, Schools, Courts, and the IRS implement a Service Fee.

What do I need to do to make sure I’m using this program correctly in my business?

In order to correctly implement a Cash Discount program, you don’t need to change any of your prices – you simply post signage (that we will provide) that states that all transactions now carry a 4% customer service charge. The proprietary technology is provided by AdvoCharge in conjunction with our hardware and processing partners.

However any consumer who pays with cash, will have this fee waived. Your posted prices are your cash prices. Consumers who pay with a method other than cash will see a 4% cash discount fee listed on their receipt at the register. The additional 4% service charge is programmed into your terminal, hence there are no additional steps for you.

I heard that it’s illegal to charge a fee if someone uses a credit card?

Until recently, Visa and MasterCard regulations made it clear merchants could not charge more to a consumer who used a credit card over other methods of payment. As a result of a 2013 lawsuit against the card networks, merchants are now allowed to impose a surcharge in all but 10 states and Puerto Rico. We’ll address the surcharge in the next question below.

However, there has always been a stipulation in the Visa and Mastercard regs that allow for a discount when paying with cash.

While this may seem like an issue of semantics, It’s simply adhering to the wording of the Visa and Mastercard regulations that allow the cash discount program to be implemented.

Here’s the verbiage specific to both Visa and Mastercard Rules and Regulations:

From Mastercard Rules 15 November 2016

5.11.2 Charges to Cardholders
A Merchant must not directly or indirectly require any Cardholder to pay a surcharge or any part of any Merchant discount or any contemporaneous finance charge in connection with a Transaction.

A Merchant may provide a discount to its customers for cash payments.

A Merchant is permitted to charge a fee (such as a bona fide commission, postage, expedited service or convenience fees, and the like) if the fee is imposed on all like transactions regardless of the form of payment used, or as the Corporation has expressly permitted in writing.

From Visa Core Rules and Visa Product and Service Rules – 22 April 2017

1.5.4.14 Discount Offer – US Region and US Territories In the US Region and a US Territory, a Merchant may request or encourage a Cardholder to use a means of payment other than a Visa

Card or a Visa Card of a different product type (e.g., Visa Classic Card, Visa Traditional Rewards Card, Visa Signature Card) than the Visa Card the consumer initially presents. Except where prohibited by applicable laws or regulations, the Merchant may do so by methods that include, but are not limited to:

  • Offering the consumer an immediate discount from the Merchant’s list, stated, or standard price, a rebate, a free or discounted product or service, or any other incentive or benefit if the consumer, who initially presents a Visa Card, uses instead another general purpose payment card or another means of payment
  • Communicating to consumers the reasonably estimated or actual costs incurred by the Merchant when a consumer uses a particular general purpose payment card or means of payment or the relative costs of using different general purpose payment cards or means of payment

Remember, your stated price now carries a 4% Service Fee, so when you someone pays with cash, they are receiving a discount off of your stated price, not an increase when they pay with credit or other means of payment.

Is this the same thing as a Surcharge? I hear that’s only allowed in certain states.

No, the Cash Discount program, while seemingly similar, is actually very different, particularly in the eyes of Visa and MasterCard. As mentioned in the preceding Q&A, the 2013 ruling against the card networks resulted in merchants now being able to implement a surcharge. The surcharge is allowed in all but 10 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas, plus the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico).

Those states claim that a surcharge is not fair to consumers. We find it somewhat laughable that it’s not fair for consumers to pay for the cost merchants incur to provide goods and services while it’s been perfectly OK for merchants to pay for the rewards programs associated with the credit cards that consumers use.

You do realize that right? Every time you see an ad on TV, in print, or hear on the radio that talks up the benefits and rewards associated with a particular credit card, those benefits come in the form of higher Interchange rates that merchants pay to be able to accept those cards. The increase in fees is not borne by the card issuing banks or credit card processors – it’s paid for by you the merchant!

The Surcharge carries with it several stipulations:

  • Only credit cards may be surcharged – no debit cards
  • Signage must be posted for at least 30 days prior to implementing a surcharge alerting your clientele
  • There is a 4% maximum that can be imposed
  • Surcharging is only allowed in states where the program has not been excluded

With the Cash Discount program, these limitations are not in place, as you are not implementing an additional fee for accepting a credit card, you are providing a discount for those who pay with cash. This is a clear distinction, and one that Visa, Mastercard, and the courts have agreed upon:

In a Cash Discount program, all prices in your store carry a 4% Service Charge. The posted prices are your cash price. Those who pay with cash do not have to pay this fee. This is not a situation where those who pay with a credit card pay more.

As Mitchell Katz, spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, said in May of 2011: The Dodd-Frank law prohibits a payment card network such as Visa “from inhibiting the ability of anyone to provide a discount for payment by cash, checks, debit cards, or credit cards,” said Katz. “Neither surcharging, nor a cash discount is illegal.”

Is this a semantics argument? We’ll let you decide, but most importantly, Visa, Mastercard, and the courts allow for this distinction.

Why don’t I just implement the program myself?

When a fee is incorrectly applied to a transaction, any additional fee charged to those consumers using a credit card is labeled a Surcharge and that is expressly forbidden by Visa, Mastercard, and the processing provider without taking very specific steps (see previous question)

The way around this process is to allow us to automate a Cash Discount Program for you which is different than the Surcharge. In the Cash Discount Program you post signage stating that all consumers will now be paying a 4% Service Fee, however for those paying with cash, the fee will be waived. We will automate your equipment so that this fee is automatically added for those customers using any method of payment other than cash (essentially credit cards). While this may sound very similar to the Surcharge Program, it is distinctly different in that everyone is paying an increased fee, but those who pay with cash receive a discount, whereas with the Surcharge program, you are specifically stating that those paying with credit cards will pay more. Most importantly it is aligned with the rules of Visa and Mastercard.

Additionally, you are forbidden by Visa, Mastercard, and the Processor’s rules to profit on a credit card transaction, which could happen if you accidentally charged more than you were being charged by the processor. By utilizing the Cash Discount program, we establish proper pricing for you to ensure you stay within all stated guidelines.

Won’t my customers be upset by this fee and want to go elsewhere?

While nobody wants to pay additional fees, more and more consumers are starting to realize just how expensive it’s been for merchants to accept credit cards. By charging a 4% fee on a sales transaction, that’s a small price for customers to pay for the goods and services you provide. And (if paying that fee or Implementing the Cash Discount Program) allows you to stay in business and keep your overall costs lower, it’s a small price to pay.

In fact, surveys have shown that over 80% of respondents stated they wouldn’t think twice about paying that amount (only $1.00 on a $25.00 transaction) for the convenience of using their credit card rather than carrying cash. And we all know that fewer and fewer of us are carrying cash these days…and everyone loves the rewards associated with their credit cards.

Additionally, we’ve all become accustomed to paying $2-4 when we use an ATM and this cash discount fee is actually cheaper than the ATM fee for most transactions.

If you explain that the Cash Discount program is a way for you to keep providing quality goods and services without increasing your overall prices, most consumers have indicated they understand and are fine with it. And again, a 4% fee on an individual transaction generally has a very small impact to the consumer, but for you, the merchant, your savings are significant.

What if I don’t like the Cash Discount Program after a few days, weeks, or months?

If for any reason you wish to discontinue the Cash Discount Program, we will immediately change you back to traditional Interchange Pricing. You will still save a lot of money on your credit card fees by utilizing the AdvoCharge low rate program, which saves business owners on average 72% over the fees your previous processor was charging.

Why does AdvoCharge offer the Cash Discount Program?

Since our inception, AdvoCharge has been an advocate acting in the best interest of our merchants, savings our clients millions of dollars each year. The Cash Discount offering creates a path to save our clients even more money each month. With the addition of this program, we have multiple options for our clients to choose from – you choose the savings plan that best suits your business. Ask us about Hybrid options if you’d like to cover some of the costs while charging your clients some but not all of the fees.

What if I have a terminal lease?

Terminal leases often have incredibly high rates relative to the underlying piece of equipment you are “renting.” For instance, it’s not uncommon to see a lease on a desktop terminal for $79 per month for 5 years. The retail price of the hardware is often only $300-400 and the cost of that terminal will be $4740 by the time it’s all paid off!

So when you know the truth it’s nauseating to make that $79 payment, but if we can save you $300 or maybe even $3000 per month in processing fees, it becomes much easier to stomach. Likely better to continue making the payment and set a calendar event to cancel as soon as possible.

What if I am under contract?

Similar to the previous FAQ on terminal leasing, sometimes cancellation fees can be insultingly high (side note: AdvoCharge never has a cancellation fee!). But often you can wait a month after switching before the fee catches up with you, and by then you will have saved significantly on the new program. In the long run you will be far better off to switch and start saving as soon as possible.

Will a Cash Discount Program totally eliminate my monthly card processing fees?

Most merchants will see some small fees on their bill as it’s hard to get every transaction to zero out completely based on all the variances in the Interchange billing structure. That said, we typically see the monthly fees drop down below $100 per month, even if previously the fees had been several hundred or even several thousand dollars!

Keep in mind that if you want to receive a statement where the net dollar amount in fees is as close to zero as possible, we will set you up with a daily discount billing plan. That means on a $25 transaction, you collect 4% for a total sale amount of $26. You will receive $25 in your account the following day and the 4% fee will have been subtracted out. At the end of the month, you’ll have the net cost of your goods and services in your bank account with minimal processing fees.

If on the other hand, you want to see the total amount of the transaction ($26 in the example above that is inclusive of the 4% service fee), then you’ll see a monthly statement that shows your total sales amount and you’ll be billed for the 4% at the end of the month. If you had 1000 $25 transactions plus a 4% service fee, you’d see $25,000 in sales, plus $1,000 in fees for $26,000 total. You would then be billed for the $1,000 at the end of the month.

The net result is the same because you are eliminating your processing costs through the implementation of a 4% fee. It all comes down to how you like to do your accounting – daily with all fees being subtracted out, or as a lump sum subtraction at the end of the month where you’ve put more money in your checking account to offset the end of month fees. The choice is yours.

I have a high average sale amount and the 4% might be viewed as being too high for my customers to stomach. Couldn’t I absorb some of that fee and still save at the same time?

On a case by case basis, we will work with you to implement a hybrid solution where you charge a Service Fee of anywhere between 1-4% to your consumer and you.

Couldn’t the credit card companies not allow a program like this in the future?

Yes, while we are currently operating under Visa and Mastercard guidelines, there is nothing preventing them from making changes to their own regulations at some point in the future. The program has been in use in the US for the past 4 years with no indications that either Visa or Mastercard will make changes to prevent it, but it is always a possibility.

If the program were to be disallowed, we would simply switch you to our low cost, Interchange Plus program where you’d pay some of the lowest rates possible within the normal card processing framework.


Where do I start if I have never accepted credit cards before?

So you’re new to credit card processing?  Maybe you’re starting up a new business or maybe you finally decided you need to be able to accept.  Either way, we can help.

If you have no prior card processing history, here’s an overview of our program for new to processing businesses:

·     Interchange pricing (true cost as set by Visa/MC/D)

·     1% against processing volume or $1 per $1000 in charges

·      $.30 per authorization

·     $5 per month for statement fee

This puts you on par or better than national programs like Square, Stripe, and PayPal. But you can do even better with a little bit of legwork.

Just like we offer a 20% savings under our Wave Program, we will also offer a 20% off of any bid you from a bank or card processor. We don’t accept cut and paste data off a website, but we guarantee 20% savings on processing fees if you get a real bid from an actual provider of merchant services.

If you’re in a rush to get your account set up, go with the intro rate now and at any point in the future we will lower your rate if you provide the bid.

And don’t forget our Zing Program where you can eliminate all fees by offer a cash discount to your cash-paying customers.

Either way, AdvoCharge has you covered!

You said a 20% savings, but what I’m seeing is less. What gives?

The underlying cost of processing is called Interchange and the card networks (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, etc) control those fees.  Everyone who accepts payment by credit card has to abide by those fees if they are going to access the card networks and that’s way Interchange is often referred to as “true cost” or the “baseline cost” of accepting credit cards.  However, it is the fees above Interchange that processors and processing providers can control.  AdvoCharge works for you to reduce those fees above Interchange by 20%.  So if you have total fees of $1000 per month, you can’t expect to have your total fees to be reduced by $200, but you will see the fees above Interchange reduced by 20%.

How can you guarantee a 20% reduction in my current processing fees? I’m pretty sure I have a great rate.

You very well might have a great rate, but AdvoCharge has a long history of working with our processors.  Through our network, our large clientbase, and our negotiations we have always been able to improve on the rates of our new clients.  We haven’t been beat yet, so you have nothing to lose and 20% savings to gain!


Where do I start if I have never accepted credit cards before?

So you’re new to credit card processing?  Maybe you’re starting up a new business or maybe you finally decided you need to be able to accept.  Either way, we can help.

If you have no prior card processing history, here’s an overview of our program for new to processing businesses:

·     Interchange pricing (true cost as set by Visa/MC/D)

·     1% against processing volume or $1 per $1000 in charges

·      $.30 per authorization

·     $5 per month for statement fee

This puts you on par or better than national programs like Square, Stripe, and PayPal. But you can do even better with a little bit of legwork.

Just like we offer a 20% savings under our Wave Program, we will also offer a 20% off of any bid you from a bank or card processor. We don’t accept cut and paste data off a website, but we guarantee 20% savings on processing fees if you get a real bid from an actual provider of merchant services.

If you’re in a rush to get your account set up, go with the intro rate now and at any point in the future we will lower your rate if you provide the bid.

And don’t forget our Zing Program where you can eliminate all fees by offer a cash discount to your cash-paying customers.

Either way, AdvoCharge has you covered!

What is AdvoCharge, exactly?

AdvoCharge is an independent merchant service provider.  Essentially we are a broker, bringing you exceptional rates on card processing through our network and relationships with several different national credit card processors.  We have worked very hard to negotiate the lowest rates possible, and we pass those rates on to you.  Most agents within the merchant service industry align with just one processor, and thereby offer only the products and services of that one processor.  AdvoCharge, on the other hand, works with several different national card processors. While we tend to favor some processors over others, we work to determine what is the best processor for your business based on your individual business needs.

We establish a direct relationship for you to the processor, but we are there as a 2nd tier line of support that you don’t get with other processing providers.  You have full 24/7/365 access to the processors you are working with, but you also have AdvoCharge to contact if you are not getting the assistance you are expecting.  Additionally, we can help you integrate third party solutions that benefit your business.

How does AdvoCharge offer such low rates?

AdvoCharge has worked tirelessly to negotiate lower and lower rates, which we pass on to our customers. We seek to develop long term relationships with our clients by offering the best rate that is locked for the life of the account, along with exemplary customer support through our processing providers.  We take the approach that many, many happy, satisfied customers with outstanding rates are far better than a smaller number of clients that pay us through very high rates.  As a result, we have very low attrition as few clients ever leave us once they see how much we save them!

We also work to keep our overhead lean and our team small and focused.  You’ll notice we don’t promote our phone number as we want the majority of incoming contact to be by email.  We’ve found that we can remain even more responsive by directing incoming information requests through email, as we are able to route these requests to the right party within our organization who can answer quickly.

What is the Cash Discount Program?

Learn more about the Cash Discount program in greater detail on the Cash Discount Page.

How do I get a hold of you? I don’t see a phone number?

See the previous FAQ “How does AdvoCharge offer such low rates?”  We are very quick to respond to questions or requests when you email us at save@advocharge.com.

We understand that many of you want to talk to a “live person” right away, but remember you will have 800# support with your processor once your new account is established.  We’re just the initial step to secure your outstanding rates which will save you thousands of dollars year after year.  Hopefully using email for your initial contact is worth the savings we generate for you.

Will my current processor agree to match the AdvoCharge rate structure?

We have discovered that very few processors will agree to match our rate structure (or are even able to match) because our rates are below cost for the majority of processors and agents.  And even if they would, wouldn’t you rather work with a processing provider that gives you a good, honest rate to begin with rather than one that when beaten down, decides to match our rates?  We are sure that even if they match, they won’t beat us – no one ever has!

If I’m already with a processor you work with, can you still lower my rates?

We definitely can!  It’s a common misunderstanding that the merchant service industry is equitable and that a given processor has just one rate that they offer to all merchants.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  In fact, there are dozens of processors and thousands of agents in the industry that all have the right to set the price for a given merchant as they see fit.  Often times that means a wildly different rate structure for even very similar merchants.

The analogy of the airlines is a good comparison to the merchant service industry:  we’ve all come to expect that when we take our seat on an airplane that the price we paid is different from the price paid by the person sitting next to us or across the aisle.  Things like time booked before the flight, premier status, and airline promotion all influence that price.

The same is true in the merchant service industry.  Replace United or Southwest with FirstData or Elavon and the same pattern arises.  The processing rate you pay is largely dependent on the agent or provider you work with.  Fortunately you’ve found AdvoCharge, and we have some of the very lowest rates in the entire nation, so even if you are with FirstData now, we can take you right back to FirstData, but with a major savings over what you were previously paying.

What does the AdvoCharge no risk guarantee mean?

We strive to not only meet, but to exceed customer expectations. If for any reason you are unhappy with the service you receive from the processor where we set up your account, you are not bound by an early termination agreement and free to cancel the processor’s contract at anytime.  Unlike most processors, we’ve ensured that our clients have no cancellation or early termination fee with any of our processing relationships.  You really have nothing to lose and a whole lot to save by working with AdvoCharge!

Please note the processing fees are assessed in arrears, so you will be responsible for any service you have already received, but not for any fees beyond the point of your cancellation with the processor.  Some early AdvoCharge clients have unique fee-structure agreements with both the processor and AdvoCharge.  Those clients remain bound by the terms of those agreements, but then as it is now, in no way is there ever an early termination or cancellation fee with the card processors.

Do you have a contract term and cancellation fee?

AdvoCharge ensures there is no set-up, annual or cancellation fee with the processing provider agreement we broker for you.  We want you to be happy with your rates, service, and support; not shackled because you have a high cancellation fee that you can’t get out of.

Some early AdvoCharge clients have a unique fee-structure agreement known as the Advocate Fee where AdvoCharge was compensated by a percentage of the savings we were able to generate with our low rates over the merchant’s previous card processing fees.  Those clients remain bound by the terms of those agreements, but then as it is now, in no way is there ever an early termination or cancellation fee with the card processors.

How do I apply for a merchant account?

Signing up is simple and easy and takes approximately just 5 minutes. You will not need to print any documents because we have developed an intuitive online application with a virtual signature option.  Just click the Start Saving button below.  Complete some info on your business, upload a voided check for your deposit account as well as your current processing statement, and we’ll have you approved shortly.

Start Saving

How long will it take me to fill out the online merchant account?

Signing up is simple and easy and takes approximately 5 minutes.  Just click the link below.

Start Saving

Do I need to print the application and fax back?

You will not need to print any documents because we have developed an intuitive online application with a virtual signature option.

Start Saving

How long does the approval process take?

Generally, once an application is electronically signed, it takes a day to approve and then another 3-4 business days before the account is ready to accept payment.  We offer some of the lowest rates in the industry, and as such the underwriting time can be a little longer than the large aggregators like Square, Stripe, and PayPal.  But compare our rates to theirs and I’m sure you’ll see that the upfront wait will pay dividends many times over down the road.  To be clear, please do not expect to have an approved and processing account within 24 hours.  It will not work that fast.

Do you offer next day funding?

All merchant accounts are setup with next day funding at no additional charge. The next day funding cutoff is 9:30 PM EST.  All funds settled after this time will be ready in your account after one additional day.

What credit cards will I be able to accept with a merchant account from AdvoCharge?

You will be able to accept all card types: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.  We can even accept the Chinese card, Union Pay. Additionally, for most businesses your American Express sales will qualify for next day funding and will appear on the same monthly processing statement. However, business that accept in excess of $1,000,000 in annual American Express sales will continue to be funded directly through American Express.

What if I have less than perfect credit?

Underwriting makes determinations on a case by case basis. If you are not approved, AdvoCharge may have alternate options for account approval depending on your business type (see the FAQ titled “Are there any prohibited businesses to whom you cannot offer processing?”)

Can I use a smartphone, tablet or my computer to accept credit card payments?

Absolutely! All three come free of charge with every merchant account.  If you need a plug in card swiper, we offer those at our wholesale rates direct from the processor.

Do I need a business checking account to obtain a merchant account?

A business checking account is required for all business entities. If your business is established as a sole proprietor, you personal checking account is sufficient.

My e-Commerce website isn’t ready; can I still qualify for an account?

Maybe – you need to have a terms of service and privacy policy listed on your website to qualify. There should be a phone number and address posted as well.  We can often get you approved on a conditional basis that is lifted once your site is completed.

Do I need to provide a business license to obtain a merchant account?

Underwriting requires a completed online application including federal tax ID and/or SS# plus a voided check, but not necessarily a business license.  The voided check can simply be uploaded into our integrated application portal/center. Additionally, uploading a prior credit card processing statement is encouraged so that we can provide you with a post savings analysis after your first month of accepting credit card payments with AdvoCharge.

Do I need to have an American Express® or Discover® account before I apply?

We set you up for all card types, and there is no need to speak directly with American Express or Discover beforehand. Additionally, both card types qualify for next day funding.

Do you accept foreign businesses?

At this time we can only establish merchant accounts for those businesses based in either the US or Canada.  However we can offer Currency Conversion that allows you to accept payments in any of dozens of different currency types from your customers.  See the next FAQ (Do you offer currency conversion?)

Do you offer currency conversion?

Indeed we do!  Currency conversion allows a US-based company, particularly eCommerce retailers, to accept the local currencies from their customers in international markets where they promote and sell their products.  Here’s a list of currencies that you will be able to accept and convert back into US Dollars:

CURRENCY CODES

Currency Id Description
ARA Argentina
BUK Burma
CRK Croatia
SVC El Salvador
EEK Estonia
MGF Madagascar
MXP Mexico
GWP Guinea-Bissau
SKK Slovak
UGS Uganda
UYP Uruguay
ZMK Zambia
PLZ Poland
AED United Arab Emirates dirham
AFN Afghan afghani
ALL Albanian lek
ANG Netherlands Antillean guilder
AOA Angolan kwanza
AUD Australian dollar
AWG Aruban florin
BBD Barbados dollar
BDT Bangladeshi taka
BGN Bulgarian lev
BHD Bahraini dinar
BIF Burundian franc
BMD Bermudian dollar (customarily known as Bermuda dollar)
BND Brunei dollar
BOB Boliviano
BRL Brazilian real
BSD Bahamian dollar
BWP Botswana pula
BZD Belize dollar
CAD Canadian dollar
CHF Swiss franc
CLP Chilean peso
CNY Chinese yuan
COP Colombian peso
CRC Costa Rican colon
CUP Cuban peso
CVE Cape Verde escudo
CZK Czech koruna
DJF Djiboutian franc
DKK Danish krone
DOP Dominican peso
DZD Algerian dinar
EGP Egyptian pound
ETB Ethiopian birr
EUR Euro
FJD Fiji dollar
GBP Pound sterling
GHS Ghanaian cedi
GIP Gibraltar pound
GMD Gambian dalasi
GNF Guinean franc
GTQ Guatemalan quetzal
GYD Guyanese dollar
HKD Hong Kong dollar
HNL Honduran lempira
HTG Haitian gourde
HUF Hungarian forint
IDR Indonesian rupiah
ILS Israeli new shekel
INR Indian rupee
IQD Iraqi dinar
IRR Iranian rial
ISK Icelandic króna
JMD Jamaican dollar
JOD Jordanian dinar
JPY Japanese yen
KES Kenyan shilling
KPW North Korean won
KRW South Korean won
KWD Kuwaiti dinar
KYD Cayman Islands dollar
LAK Lao kip
LBP Lebanese pound
LKR Sri Lankan rupee
LRD Liberian dollar
LSL Lesotho loti
LTL Lithuanian litas
LVL Latvian lats
LYD Libyan dinar
MAD Moroccan dirham
MRO Mauritanian ouguiya
MUR Mauritian rupee
MVR Maldivian rufiyaa
MWK Malawian kwacha
MYR Malaysian ringgit
MZN Mozambican metical
NAD Namibian dollar
NGN Nigerian naira
NIO Nicaraguan córdoba
NOK Norwegian krone
NPR Nepalese rupee
NZD New Zealand dollar
OMR Omani rial
PAB Panamanian balboa
PEN Peruvian nuevo sol
PGK Papua New Guinean kina
PHP Philippine peso
PKR Pakistani rupee
PYG Paraguayan guaraní
QAR Qatari riyal
RON Romanian new leu
RUB Russian rouble
RWF Rwandan franc
SAR Saudi riyal
SCR Seychelles rupee
SDG Sudanese pound
SEK Swedish krona/kronor
SGD Singapore dollar
SLL Sierra Leonean leone
SOS Somali shilling
SRD Surinamese dollar
STD São Tomé and Príncipe dobra
SYP Syrian pound
SZL Swazi lilangeni
THB Thai baht
TND Tunisian dinar
TOP Tongan pa?anga
TRY Turkish lira
TTD Trinidad and Tobago dollar
TWD New Taiwan dollar
TZS Tanzanian shilling
USD United States dollar
VEF Venezuelan bolívar fuerte
VND Vietnamese dong
VUV Vanuatu vatu
WST Samoan tala
XCD East Caribbean dollar
XPF CFP franc
YER Yemeni rial
ZAR South African rand

Do you offer Level 2 and 3 processing?

We sure do!  Level 2 and 3 processing applies to those business that accept payment from other businesses.  If you collect a little bit of additional information like invoice and tax rate, you can qualify for a special Interchange rate on those B2B transactions.  Level 2 and 3 processing can save you significantly over what you had been paying to accept credit cards that were issued to other businesses.  We can help ensure you are collecting the correct information to take advantage of these rates.

Is there a customer service number I can call if I need help?

Absolutely! You will have access to 24/7/365 technical and customer support through whichever processing partner we establish for you.

How will I receive the proceeds from my transactions?

The checking account you provide us with will be funded on a daily basis for all sales batched/settled the previous day. All weekend sales will fund on the following Monday.  You may also choose to have one account that receives funds and another where the fees are removed.  Some business like to separate deposits and withdrawals, and we are happy to accommodate.

Will I receive a monthly statement?

You will be able to access and download your monthly processing statement through our robust back office portal that comes free of charge with every merchant account. If you enjoy having a monthly statement mailed to your home or business, that service is also provided upon request.

Are there any extra features that I will have access to with my merchant account?

Every AdvoCharge merchant account includes free mobile processing, a virtual terminal that is accessible from any internet connection, and a comprehensive back office portal for monitoring all sales activity.

What kinds of businesses does AdvoCharge accept as clients?

AdvoCharge accepts merchant applications from all business types. A very small percentage of accounts may fall into a higher risk category. Should your specific business fall into this category, an AdvoCharge representative will reach out to you once we are notified by underwriting.

Do you accept medical or recreational marijuana businesses?

While we recognize that there are many, legally operating businesses in the marijuana industry that abide by the laws of their state (including our home state of Colorado), unfortunately the banking industry has not been so progressive and remains unwilling to underwrite and board these businesses.  At this point in time, we are unable to find a home for your processing, but we are always looking for solutions for our future clients.  As soon as we are able to provide processing we will be sure to let your industry know!

Are there any prohibited businesses to whom you cannot offer processing?

While there are exceptions to every rule, for the most part we are unable to board merchants in the following categories:

  • Adoption Agencies – for profit
  • Adult Entertainment
  • Bankruptcy Attorney
  • Pornography
  • Cigarette Sales
  • Collection Agencies, Refinancing of Debt
  • Counseling Centers (non-licensed)
  • Credit Restoration
  • Direct marketing – Travel related arrangement services
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Fortune tellers
  • Gun Sales on the Internet
  • Investor services/ Investment clubs
  • Sale of Stocks, Securities, Options and Other Investments
  • Investment Clubs or Investment Advice
  • Protection Services
  • Sexual Encounter Firms
  • Internet Gambling
  • Marijuana-related Business (see previous FAQ)

 

If you feel you have a legitimate business that could be misconstrued for one of the above listed business types, feel free to shoot us a note at save@advocharge.com.  Be sure to explain your business and tell us your projected processing volume and average sale amount.