What payment gateways support level 3 processing?

level 3 payment gateway chart

2014 level 3 payment gateway comparison chart. Click image for PDF.

2014 comparison chart review of payment gateways that support level III data and whether or not the gateway is independent of the merchant account. Reviewed are authorize.net, CenPOS, Paymentech Orbital, First Data e4 Global Gateway, PayTrace, Payflow Pro, 3Delta Systems (3DSI), Paymentech Orbital, and Heartland Payment Systems.

Where a check is indicated, the merchant can send level III data without any special programming or integration (except API).  However, a merchant might achieve level 3 processing in another category by using an API.

The payment channels reviewed include retail, moto, ecommerce shopping cart, electronic bill presentment & payment (EBPP), online payments (hosted web pay page), token billing (recurring), API (ERP and other software). Also indicated is whether a new merchant account is required or which merchant processors the gateway is compatible with.

2014 Level 3 Processing Omnichannel Payment Gateway Comparison Chart PDF download 1.1 MB

Certification to merchant processors, including level 3 processing:

  • CenPOS: First Data (FDC Nashville), Chase Paymentech, Vantiv, TSYS*
  • authorize.net: Chase Paymentech, FDC Compass, FDC Nashville Global , GPN, Litle, RBS WorldPay Atlanta, TSYS
  • Payflow Pro: Cielo, First Data (FDMS), Heartland, Litle, Paymentech Salem, Paymentech Tampa, Securenet, TSYS
  • Paytrace: TSYS, Paymentech Tampa, Global East, Heartland, and Trident.

* Think of TSYS as a hub that provides access for transactions (traffic via payment gateway) to many highways (processors). By going through the hub, a payment gateway can securely connect to many processors (Global, Heartland, First Data etc) with one certification. Some merchants may incur a per transaction fee for using a payment gateway that connects via TSYS; this may or may not be additional to fees already being paid.


** January 2014 Authorize.net update http://apps.cybersource.com/library/documentation/dev_guides/Level_2_3_SO_API/Level_II_III_SO_API.pdf (pg 10)

*** 2/28/2014 Payflow Pro https://www.paypalobjects.com/webstatic/en_US/developer/docs/pdf/payflowgateway_guide.pdf

DISCLAIMER: If the information was unclear or not available, the field was left blank to err on the side of caution. Contact processors or payment gateway providers for specific details about availability and functionality. 3D Merchant Services is an authorized reseller for CenPOS, and most payment gateways, in addition to other services.


MOTO: mail order, telephone order. This is a transaction indicator code for card not present transactions.

EBPP: electronic bill presentment & payment. A merchant delivers an electronic invoice to their customers. The customer then pays the invoice electronically.

LEVEL III data or level 3 data:  refers to the additional field data sent for processing Visa and MasterCard business, corporate and purchasing cards.

LEVEL III data or level 3 processing: refers to a merchant account that supports the acceptance of level 3 data and passes the data onto the issuers

What’s the difference between level 3 and level III? Nothing. In 2014, and recent documents, interchange rates are more frequently referred to as level 3. However, in older documentation and marketing materials, the requirements and other items referred to it as level III.

It’s critical to note that the CAPABILITY of sending level 3 data via a payment gateway, does NOT guarantee that the transaction will qualify for level 3 interchange rates. There are many rules, and how the gateway helps a merchant meet those rules varies widely. For a free consultation on key operational differences between level III gateways, contact us.

Article feedback is appreciated!


Partial Approvals, Partial Authorizations and Authorization Reversals

Now 2013, some merchants are experiencing issues related to the revised MasterCard and Discover 2010 Prepaid and Debit Card Requirements, particularly partial auth reversals. One reason is that some transactions received a partial approval. A partial approval occurs when a Gift Card is used (Visa/MC/AMEX prepaid cards) that have a lower balance that the requested authorization amount;  the processor approves the transaction for the amount that is left on the card. The merchant then must collect the balance with an alternative payment source such as cash or another card.

The 3 critical points of the rules change (from MasterCard):

  • Partial Approvals—Merchants can systemically conduct split-tender purchases by allowing debit card issuers (including prepaid) to systemically approve a portion of the original transaction amount in the authorization request when the transaction amount exceeds the funds available on the card. The merchant can then systemically initiate split-tender processing and obtain the remainder of the purchase amount in another form of payment.
  • Balance Response—Prepaid issuers can transmit account balance information in an authorization response, cardholders will attempt fewer purchases that exceed their available balances, leading to fewer declines at the POS.
  • Authorization Reversal—Authorization reversals will free up debit cardholders’ open to buy amounts by reducing issuer holds on available balances when transactions were not completed, therefore reducing the declines at the POS and the amount of cardholder complaints that are unpleasant for all parties involved.

At the time the rules were created, technology within various points of the payment processing ecosystem could not support the new requirement. Payment gateway and processor issues have largely been resolved at this point, but partial authorizations may still be troublesome in certain environments. For example, an ecommerce site or POS software solution may not have the logic to accept an alternate payment source. If you have an issue, the simplest immediate solution is to contact your credit cart processor and ask them to turn off partial authorizations on your merchant account.  That’s the quick fix, however, if the rules apply to your business, you may need to update your payment technology to comply. Refer to page 299 in the MasterCard Rules, updated December 2012, for more information on Full and Partial Approvals and Account Balance Responses.

About Christine Speedy, blog author. Christine is an authorized reseller for CenPOS, a cloud payment processing suite of solutions that creates numerous efficiencies for merchants. The CenPOS point of sale, mobile app, and other solutions support partial authorizations and authorization reversals.  Global Sales: Christine Speedy (954) 942-0483.

Level 3 data, Purchasing Card, Commercial Data Rate III, and interchange rate qualification explained

Level 1, Level 2 and level 3 data are general descriptors for the type of information required to qualify for interchange rates applicable to business, corporate, and purchasing cards. Level 3 data can reduce costs over 1%.  This article focuses on business to business, card not present transactions.  (Petroleum, Airlines, T&E and other industries have unique rules and rates, but similar concepts.)

Although interchange fees are the non-negotiable fees all merchants pay, they can be influenced.


example 1

  • Commercial Standard: Business World Elite: 3.17% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate I: Business World Elite: 2.87% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate II: Business World Elite: 2.42% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate III: Business World Elite: 2.02% + $0.10

example 2

  • Commercial Standard: Purchasing: 2.95% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate I: Purchasing: 2.65% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate II: Purchasing: 2.10% + $0.10
  • Commercial Data Rate III: Purchasing: 1.90% + $0.10
  • Commercial Large Ticket I, II, or III Purchasing: 1.35% + $40.00


  • Commercial Card Standard:  Corporate: 2.95% + $0.10
  • Commercial Card Level II: Corporate: 2.05% + $0.05 (and Business Enhanced, Signature Business, Corporate, and Purchasing Cards)
  • Commercial Level III: 1.95% + $0.10 ( U.S. Issued Purchasing, including GSA Purchasing and Corporate Cards.)

What is level 2 data?

Level II Data includes the entry of customer code, card acceptor type, tax ID and sales tax.

  • For MasterCard, a sales tax amount is required, and the amount must be greater than $0.00, but no less than 0.1% – 30 % of the transaction amount.
  • For Visa, a tax amount is not required, but the merchant must indicate whether the transaction is tax exempt.

What is level 3 data?

Level III Data includes Level II data, line item detail and additional data. MasterCard does NOT require a sales tax amount to qualify for level 3 interchange rates.
Level III Summary Data is required to qualify for the related Level III interchange rate. It includes Customer Code, VAT tax amount/rate, Ship to/from Zip code, Destination country code, Invoice number, Order date, Invoice Discount, Freight Shipping Amount, and Duty amount.
If you’re a CenPOS customer, when creating a template, select Level III Light to send only these items that are required.
Level III Full data is not required to qualify for the level III interchange rate, however, particularly if you have GSA contracts, your customers may require you to provide it.
Level III Data Full also includes line items with the Product Code, Commodity Code, Descriptor, Unit of measure, Unit Cost, Quantity, Item Discount, and Total. Some purchasers may want Full Level III Data so they can see these items appear on their statement.

Visa Purchasing Card Requirements

Level II
Level I data elements: Sales tax amount, Sales tax indicator Customer code,Purchase ID, Purchase ID format
Level III – Summary Data
Level I and II data elements plus Ship to/from ZIP code, Destination country code,VAT, invoice, reference number, VAT tax amount/rate Discount amount, Freight/shipping amount, Duty amount,Order date
Level III – Line Item Detail
Level I and II data elements plus Item description, Item quantity, Item unit of measure, Item total Item commodity code, Item product code

Item unit cost, Item VAT tax amount/rate

No outside agent, including automated technology, can create data on behalf of the merchant to submit with a transaction to qualify for level 3 interchange rates.

EDITORS NOTES: Some of the biggest level 3 processing technology companies request merchants submit level 3 data, but do not send the same data; the software replaces it behind the scenes. Caution, the merchant is liable for all fees and fines if transactions qualified for interchange rates that the merchant was not eligible for because of improper representment.

How our application creates efficiencies:

  • Merchants are only prompted for level 3 data on cards that qualify for it. Others prompt for every card because they have no intelligence.
  • Only merchant data is submitted; it is never replaced, in compliance with all guidelines.
  • Prompts users for required information automatically, and will not let them bypass unless you make it optional
  • “Light” option available if your customers don’t require line item detail.
  • Templates help save time
  • SaaS- merchants are never out of date and are not required to install software on local computers

For more information on level III credit card processing solutions, contact Christine Speedy.