2021 Convenience Fee Rules Explained

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Credit card convenience fees 2021 rules explained. Visa rules on convenience fees as outlined in Table 5-5 Convenience Fee Requirements remain unchanged since 2020.

What’s a convenience fee and when can I use it? Convenience fees can only be charged for a bona fide convenience in the form of an alternative payment channel outside the Merchant’s customary payment channels and not charged solely for the acceptance of a Card. If a merchant only accepts credit cards, it’s prohibited. Alternatively as an example, if a merchant gets 99% checks in the mail, ACH, and wire, they could be eligible to charge a convenience fee.

The following are all elements that can impact whether you can charge a convenience fee:

  • Federal law
  • State law
  • Rules of card acceptance, for example, Visa Core Rules
  • Merchant acquirer (credit card processor)

Who can and cannot charge a convenience fee?

  • If the Merchant operates exclusively in a Card-Absent
    Environment, cannot charge a convenience fee.
  • Convenience fee can only be charged by the merchant that provides the goods or services to the cardholder, not a third party.

Visa convenience fee rules excerpts:

  • Cannot be charged on a Recurring Transaction or an Installment Transaction.
  • Must be listed as a separate line item on the receipt.
  • Must be included with the total transaction. In other words, the receipt must split out the amount, but only one transaction is sent.
  • Added only to a domestic Unattended Transaction. In other words, customers self-pay.
  • Must be disclosed to customers as a charge for alternate payment channel convenience.

How much is allowed for a convenience fee?

Per Visa, the convenience fee must be a flat, or fixed amount, regardless of the value of the payment due. There isn’t a limit on the amount and a merchant may choose to dynamically generate the convenience fee amount. Regardless, the consumer must be able to opt-out prior to completing the transaction.

See Visa Core Rules Table 5-5: Convenience Fee Requirements for more information. Note, this is a change from the 2018 blog post.

Rules may vary by card brand, but typically, if a merchant complies with Visa rules, they’ll be compliant with the other brands. A convenience fee is not the same as a credit card surcharge for Visa, which also has another type called a service fee,which applies to government and education only.

Call Christine Speedy, PCI Council QIR certified, for simple solutions to complex payment transaction problems, 954-942-0483, 9-5 ET. CenPOS authorized reseller based out of South Florida and NY. CenPOS is an integrated commerce technology platform driving innovative, omnichannel solutions tailored to meet a merchant’s market needs. Providing a single point of integration, the CenPOS platform combines payment, commerce and value-added functionality enabling merchants to transform their commerce experience, eliminate the need to manage complex integrations, reduce the burden of accepting payments and create deeper customer relationships.

Please share your convenience fee insights for others and ask any questions below.

3-D Secure 2.0 Merchant Overview 2021

How do businesses get started using 3-D Secure? Everything teams need to know to add 3-D Secure, a protocol providing an additional layer of security for eCommerce transactions prior to authorization. Think of it like a phone number or account number. 3-D Secure needs to be tied to your specific merchant account and then enabled on the payment gateway to be active.

  1. Unless the gateway provider is the same as acquirer, also known as credit card processor or merchant account provider, ask the gateway service provider for instructions for acquirer.
  2. Contact your merchant account sales relationship manager to request the service. If you don’t have one, call your merchant account customer support.
  3. The acquirer emails the response information to the requestor.
  4. The requestor then enables on the payment gateway or provides information to the end user for final enablement.

3-D Secure is a protocol providing an additional layer of security for eCommerce transactions prior to authorization. It enables the exchange of data between the merchant, card issuer and, when necessary, the consumer, to validate that the transaction is being initiated by the actual cardholder. Ecommerce transactions includes traditional shopping cart as well as any digital payment where the cardholder initiates and completes the payment process. For example, einvoicing or electronic bill presentment and payment are ecommerce transactions.

Each card network has a name for their product that uses 3-D secure, also referred to as 3D Secure, 3DS, 3-D Secure authentication or EMV 3-D Secure. Visa rebranded Verified by Visa to Visa Secure. MasterCard SecureCode (3DS 1.0) merchants are being encouraged to migrate to Mastercard Identity Check which uses EMV 3-D Secure 2.0. American Express SafeKey 2.0 is also available now. 3-D Secure 2.x helps reduce fraud and minimize the need for one-time passcodes, improving the user experience and reducing shopping cart abandonment.

What are merchant benefits for using 3-D Secure?

  • More authorization approvals. False declines are a significant source of lost revenue.
  • Some cards have reduced interchange rates when the authentication is invoked, which are usually over 90% of fees. American Express does reduce rates.
  • Less friction for customers at checkout.
  • Reduced risk of chargeback losses. Fraud liability for “it wasn’t me” automatically shifts to the issuer; Merchants do not have to defend those chargebacks, they never even see them.

How do merchants get started using 3-D Secure?

There are two elements- the payment gateway and the merchant account. Contact your payment gateway company to see if they support it and how to set it up. In most cases, this is simply a back office set up process. Merchants may also need to sign acceptance of pricing. The transaction fees are minimal and typically more than offset by the 11 to 20 basis point reduction in merchant fees on applicable cards.

Christine Speedy, Founder 3D Merchant Services, QIR certified, is a credit card processing expert with specialized expertise in card not present and B2B payment processing technology. Less than 1% of all merchant services sales representatives are QIR certified by the PCI Council. Christine is an authorized reseller for Elavon and CenPOS products and services, in addition to other solutions.

Chinese PAX payment terminal manufacturer raided by FBI in Florida

PAX Technology Warehouse in Jacksonville Florida was the subject of a search and investigation October 26, 2021 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and several other agencies. PAX is a Chinese credit card terminal provider that significantly grew it’s global reach, including the US, during the transition to EMV chip terminals.

Brian Krebs, a cybersecurity investigative journalist, reported a major US payment processor noticed that PAX terminals were being used both as a malware “dropper” — a repository for malicious files — and as “command-and-control” locations for staging attacks and collecting information. Something didn’t add up and PAX didn’t give any good answers.

FBI Statement: “The FBI Jacksonville Division, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, and Naval Criminal Investigative Services, and with the support of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, is executing a court-authorized search at this location in furtherance of a federal investigation. We are not aware of any physical threat to the surrounding community related to this search. The investigation remains active and ongoing and no additional information can be confirmed at this time.”

US vendors in the payments ecosystem were quick to respond. The sale and installation of PAX terminals has already been prohibited by some.

Fresno Woman Pleads Guilty to Committing $100,000 in Credit Card Fraud

FRESNO, Calif. — Alena Nicole George, 43, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to access device fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, from February through April 2019, George used a credit card that was fraudulently opened in the identity of a victim with a name similar to her own name to make $100,000 in purchases at national retailers and cash advances at a national bank.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vincente Tennerelli and Joseph Barton are prosecuting the case.

George is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on Jan. 21, 2022. George faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edca/pr/fresno-woman-pleads-guilty-committing-100000-credit-card-fraud

Miami Man Pleads Guilty to Participating in Access Device Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracies for his Roles in Nationwide Gas Station Skimming Scheme

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Hugo Hernandez, age 34, of Miami Lakes, Florida, pled guilty today to a superseding indictment charging him with being part of access device fraud and money laundering conspiracies for his roles in a nationwide gas station skimming scheme that involved stealing banking and personal information of residents in and around the Northern District of New York, as well as multiple other parts of the country, who used the “pay at the pump” feature to make gasoline purchases.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Inspector in Charge Ketty Larco-Ward, Boston Division, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

As part of his guilty plea, Hernandez admitted that between December 2015 and July 2019,  he conspired with others to commit access device fraud by building skimming devices designed to steal gas station customer information, installing those devices inside gas pumps in Albany, Broome, and Montgomery Counties, and elsewhere, and then using the information collected by those devices to create fake credit and debit cards. The fake cards were used to obtain money orders, gift cards, cash, and other things of value.

Hernandez also admitted to being part of a conspiracy to launder funds obtained through the access device fraud conspiracy, and, in facilitating that conspiracy, causing at least 162 money orders, worth $173,257, to be deposited into a bank account he controlled. As part of his plea agreement, Hernandez agreed to be subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $173,257.

A sentencing hearing is set to take place on March 1, 2022, before Senior United States District Judge Gary L. Sharpe. Hernandez faces up to 20 years in prison; a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater; and up to 3 years of supervised release. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the FBI Albany Field Office and USPIS Boston Division, with assistance from the FBI Field Offices in Miami, Pittsburgh, and San Juan, the USPIS Miami Division, the United States Secret Service Miami Field Office, as well as the New York State Department of Agriculture, Division of Weights and Measures. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Emily C. Powers.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndny/pr/miami-man-pleads-guilty-participating-access-device-fraud-and-money-laundering