Intuit Merchant Services vs Regular Merchant Account With Quickbooks

Intuit merchant services has pros and cons, like all credit card processing solutions. This review will help you make the best choice for a merchant account.

Intuit Merchant Services vs Regular Merchant Account

There are two main differences:

  1. Price structure. Intuit has a flat percentage and per transaction for key entered and one for swiped. For example, the Intuit keyed rate is 3.40% + $.25 + $.10 address verification service or AVS. A regular merchant account includes interchange and a bunch of other fees. Even though those ‘other’ fees could add up to .10% or more, the overall effective rate (fees divided by costs) is normally always lower than the Intuit effective rate for merchants on ‘pass through’ pricing like offered here. As shown in the image below, interchange starts at .05%.

    interchange rates

    Actual interchange rates for a business to business merchant.

  2. Cash flow. Intuit nets fees from every sale. For example, using the keyed rate of 3.40% + $.25 + $.10 avs, for a $100 key entered transaction, the Intuit merchant receives a $96.25 deposit the next day. It’s possible the amount varies due to international fee etc. With a regular merchant account, the merchant receives $100 deposit within 1- 2 business days, and at the end of the month, pays the total months fees via ACH.

Extra Intuit fees are found in INTUIT QUICKBOOKS PAYMENTS PRICING SCHEDULE. The only fee that stands out is AVS, or address verification service, at $.10 each; it’s at least 100% more than regular merchant accounts, and since merchants should supply AVS for all card not present transactions, add it in as a hard cost per transaction when comparing options. The rest of the fees are in line with costs anywhere.

How do the differences impact merchants?

A company with $1,000,000 in credit card sales might have an effective rate between 1.3% and 2.75%, depending on business type etc. A 1% drop in effective rate equals $1000 in savings for this example. More importantly, merchants can preserve cash flow by paying fees after the month is over, and keep reconciliation clean with fees applied to COGS once per month, vs every transaction.

For very small businesses, it almost doesn’t make any difference who the merchant uses for processing. The effective rate is 3.75% in the example above. If you run the numbers with fees from Costco and others, it will end up being relatively the same, and most importantly, a small difference, isn’t really going to make a bid difference in the overall fees paid; a .1% difference on $100,000 is $100 per year. I think a small business should focus more on growing revenues than fretting over fees.

Managing credit card payments within Quickbooks vs regular merchant account

Options:

  1. Intuit merchant services applies payments to invoices and sales receipts. Quickbooks mobile GoPayment. The last user report received was that QB created a new customer for any unrecognized cardholder and this was problematic, because the merchant already has the customer registered under a company name. This problem is common with both Quickbooks and some 3rd party solutions.
  2. Merchants use a regular merchant account and process transactions, such as a virtual terminal, ecommerce store, or mobile device. With 3rd party transaction importer software, the merchant downloads transactions much like downloading bank transactions. This software can be a one time fee, annual fee, or SaaS with recurring billing. Merchants with higher volume, multichannel, or needing special payment solutions can use this. Typically the software provides more control for importing, including matching to existing QB data.
  3. Process transactions within Quickbooks, using a 3rd party application. To reduce PCI Compliance burden, the merchant experience is that they’re in QB, but the payment activity is occurring via a 3rd party secure payment gateway, connected to a regular merchant account. The benefits are more control and flexibility, with the efficiency of working within Quickbooks and automatically marking invoices as paid etc.  There’s nothing that Quickbooks does that cannot continue to be completed within Quickbooks with the integration, or that cannot be enhanced with the 3rd party integration, including electronic bill presentment and payment. Some differentiators for B2B include payment types supported (check, ACH, wire, credit card, Paypal and more); delivery methods- text, email, other, automated reminders- 30 days or on your schedule, cardholder authentication-3-D Secure shifts fraud liability to issuer.  For any sizable business, efficiencies and cost savings will outweigh the costs of the gateway, solution, and merchant account fees.

Need help making the right choice? The best solution is not the same for every business. There are many factors including business type, how and where you accept payments, whether you have aging accounts receivable and more. Check processing was not covered here, but it’s the same concept.

Quick buying guides:

  • If your business processes less than $100,000 annually, stick with whatever you have and focus on growing the business.
  • If you don’t use Intuit merchant services now, and are key entering every record from your 3rd party processor, it’s worth exploring options.
  • If you process $1,000,000 or more annually, the benefits are well worth the time to make a change. Call 954-942-0483 for a FREE consultation for a regular merchant account with Quickbooks integration.  “I’ve used them all, and I’ve been a Quickbooks user for over 15 years,” says Christine Speedy, owner of 3D Merchant Services. “In about 5 minutes, I can ascertain whether it’s worth exploring alternatives, or give merchants peace of mind they have the right solution for their business.”

Sekure cost review, Sekure Card, Sekure Merchants Review

Merchant statement review

Merchant statement review, partial statement shown.

Did you get a call from sekurecostreview.com for a merchant statement analysis? Read my research, which points out why I recommend merchants never give this company merchants statements or any other business information.

The company web site is here: http://www.sekurecostreview.com, but they have more web sites with the same physical address.

Who is Sekure Cost Review?

sekurecostreview.com affiliated web sites:

    • Sekure Card Services – sekurecardservices.com

    • Sekure Merchant Solutions sekuremerchants.com

    • Sekure Careers sekurecareers.com – they hire telemarketers

The address is 1501 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, NY.  The address is not a traditional office, but one where anyone can ‘rent space’ so that they have a ‘prestigious office address’. From www.newofficeamerica.com, “This modern, professional business center offers companies a prestigious corporate address right at the heart of Times Square on bustling Broadway, your clients won’t help to be impressed.”

US Business Affiliation?: There’s no business registered in NYS with any of the business names in the domains above. Further, past employees report that the company is actually based in Montreal Canada, even though they called exclusively on US based businesses.  “When I can’t find a business registered with the state their supposedly affiliated with, I won’t do business with them,” says Christine Speedy, 3D Merchant Services.

The Sekure Cost Review sales pitch:

The caller said that she was providing a free cost review “funded by major banks, processors” and others in the industry. That perked my ears. Who was paying for it?  I wasn’t able to get a straight answer other than the big banks etc and they may change from time to time. “Are you a processor or ISO?” “No, we’re a broker. We save you…” . I asked it they were a lead generation company for processors? “No.”  From my research and industry knowledge, in my opinion, they’re conducting lead generation which they then send to ISO’s, or independent sales organizations, and then they get paid for deals. That’s pretty common.

The pitch is that by providing merchant statements they’ll give a side by side comparison so that I could see if I was getting gouged. No obligation.

Statement reviews are a good idea. Sekurecostreview.com and affiliated web sites highlight four items about their business:

  1. BBB reputation: USA media has proven there’s little value in a BBB reputation since companies can BUY their reputation, and there’s no verification. (See 20/20 report among others.) All sites link to Sekure Merchant Solutions, a company potentially not even legally registered in NYS. Additionally, there are 32 complaints, and while nearly all were resolved, this number is much higher than companies in the same industry that are bigger by volume processed and number of merchants served.
  2. Low cost rates: The web cites $30M/mth and the phone called cited $40M/mth in transaction volume as the reason for their great rates. In my opinion, while it’s not insignificant, companies with $100M/mth or more are far more likely to have better options.
  3. POS: Reprogram or Free terminal. Free terminals are nearly always bad because the money has to be made up somewhere. That means possibly older but PCI compliant equipment, but more likely higher fees to cover the initial outlay, or long term contracts with heavy contract dissolution fees to get out of them.  All merchant agreements include future fee increase clause so at some point you’ll pay a lot more for free equipment.
  4. Sample Review: Looks like a pretty typical side by side review that takes the same transactions at the same interchange qualification and applies a different discount rate. Rate comparisons can be a terrible way to make merchant process choices.
    • Interchange management can reduce fees from .10% to over 1%.  That’s above and beyond any discount fee negotiation. There’s a bottom to discount fee negotiation- then what will you do to reduce fees?
    • Improved productivity can increase EBITDA significantly
    • Reduced PCI compliance burden increases productivity in other areas of business

    Bottom line: As processor profits are narrowed, the bigger merchant savings comes from better interchange rate qualification in addition to efficiency improvements and reduced PCI Compliance burden.

Other:

Allied Memberships:  What does ‘allied’ mean? It does not mean an endorsement. For example, the NRF offers Retail, Service Provider, and University memberships. The only membership sekurecostreview.com qualifies for is Service Provider.  I didn’t find their company in any of the online buying guides. That doesn’t mean they’re not a member, just not in any area I searched online.

Is sekurecostreview.com a scam or legit?

They may or may not provide a valuable service to some merchants, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. Sharing highly confidential information in a world of escalating identity theft is just not worth the risk.

What’s the alternative?  Just about anyone can provide a statement review. Find someone that knows about your industry and asks questions about your business without sharing merchant statements. It takes more time and expertise to get through these steps, but it’s a lot safer. Avoid choosing any vendor that has a web site without identifying an owner or single person by name. Look up the salesperson on linkedin.

See Christine Speedy on Linkedin and see Christine Speedy on 3D Merchant Services.

Costco Nova-Elavon credit card processing price review revisited

If you use Costco’s credit card processing partner, Elavon, which acquired Nova in 2009, or another processor, then your price plan likely includes prices tiers such as qualified,  mid qualified, and non-qualified. This is where merchants have a difficult time comparing processor quotes and get upset when the bills come in.

We reported the latest 2011 rates in the Costco program with Elavon earlier this year. They offer a low Visa/MasterCard qualified rate. It’s an attention getter, no doubt. Here are some 2010 statistics about cards being used by consumers:

  • Visa’s overall volume is 60% check cards, MasterCard 35% check cards.
  • Only 10% of all card volume is traditional cards- no business or rewards.

Here are the Costco member Elavon published 2011 rates  again:

Visa/MasterCard Qualified (Traditional Credit & Signature Debit) 1.48% plus $0.20 (reduced)
Visa/MasterCard Qualified Rewards 2.20% plus $0.20 (increased)
Visa/MasterCard Partially Qualified 2.96% plus $0.33
Commercial Non-Qualified 2.96% plus $0.33
MasterCard Non-Qualified 3.80% plus $0.33

As previously reported in April 2010 Costco, Elavon, Nova and merchant rates, I’m still neutral for accounts processing under $100,000 annually. Qualified means retail card swiped in the above numbers. Why neutral? As I’ve said before, if you process $5000 or $10000, there’s not much difference in suppliers if you saved even .5% in fees.

At $20,000/mth, the difference in what you’re really paying- remember most cards are rewards related-on the Elavon plan vs a plan we can put you on can start making a difference.

3D Merchant Services specializes in mid-size businesses. As part of our  giving back to Help American Businesses Prosper program, we’re now accepting up to four small businesses per month into our partner portfolio. After all, we were a small business at one time too. Businesses will receive preferred partner credit card processing terms and education to make their businesses secure while controlling costs.