How to read the fine print

The first step to understanding your merchant processing agreement is to read it very carefully. In fact, if you don’t have the patience and understanding of a lawyer, you are probably better off having your contract reviewed by one. If that’s not an option for you, however, make sure that you understand each clause in your contract before signing on the dotted line.

The second step is to pay attention to what kind of problems arise during the term of your contract with a merchant provider and whether or not they are willing—and able—to help you solve them quickly. If issues arise that could have been prevented had there been clearer language in the terms and conditions section (e.g., when they say “no refunds,” do they mean “no refunds ever?”), then this could be indicative of larger problems down the road if left unchecked. The best way to keep track of these things over time is with regular reviews: reading through everything every six months or so can help prevent misunderstandings from growing into bigger ones later on down the line!

Look out for Arbitrary Rate Increases

Price hike written with white and green chalk on blackboard

An Arbitrary Rate Increase (also known as an ARI) is a term used in card processing agreements that allows the processor to increase your rates at any time without notice. This can be a costly issue you should be aware of it. Ask your merchant services provider if they have this clause in their contract and speak with them about their pricing structure.

Fees are not fixed

Fees are not fixed.

They can be changed by the processor without your consent and without any reference to market forces, your business performance or the performance of other businesses. They can be changed for any reason or no reason at all.

Be careful when signing your merchant processing agreement!

One of the most important things you can do when signing your merchant processing agreement is to read the fine print. Many agreements have arbitrary rate increases, which means that your processor can increase their fees at any time without giving you 30 days’ notice. These increases may also be a sign of a shady processor or network that you want nothing to do with in the first place.

If you don’t understand what fees are included in your monthly rate (or if there are fees that don’t make sense), talk to someone from the processor and ask them what those charges are for. You should also ask if there are any other potential costs involved in using their services that might arise over time or unexpectedly come out of your account every month.