Overcoming Merchant Objections to Credit Card Payments Surcharging

Blog 2022

Building a strong merchant services portfolio requires patience, persistence, and an ability to propose solutions that your merchant clients will naturally want to implement. That can be easier said than done.

For example, as more merchants evaluate ways to reduce their processing fees, surcharging has emerged as a viable option that is commonly recommended. However, not every merchant is sold on passing along a portion of those fees to their customers. Some have concerns that can challenge independent agents during the sales process.

That means you should be well-versed in this solution, starting with a full understanding of the concerns your merchants may have. In this blog, we take a look at merchant concerns about surcharging and the key points you can use to dispel them.

“Surcharging Compromises Customer Retention”

One of the most common concerns merchants have about surcharging is the risk of losing customers. As much as they want to pass along their credit card processing fees, some merchants are afraid that it will cost them the sacred relationships they’ve worked so hard to build.

They fear that customers will view the added cost at checkout as a penalty for using a credit card. Or they’re concerned that customers will interpret the surcharge as an indication that merchants aren’t willing to assume the necessary cost of doing business.

Reality: Customers Aren’t Necessarily Opposed to Surcharging

Customers can usually accept a credit card surcharge option if they’re aware of two things:

  1. Credit cards are more expensive to accept than debit cards.
  2. Customers have the option to pay no surcharge with a debit card.

So, the idea of sharing that cost with merchants may actually be viewed as a trade-off – especially for customers who are accustomed to paying for premium services.

In addition, sales volumes tend to remain stable or even increase after implementing surcharges – much to merchants’ surprise. Customer retention rates also remain stable, and can improve, post-implementation of surcharges.

Reality: Surcharging Offers Choice

When merchants implement surcharging, they aren’t coercing customers to pay more – instead, they’re offering customers a choice of how to pay. Customers can use their credit cards and pay a portion of the processing fee, or they can use their debit cards and pay nothing additional.

Payroc offers a compliant surcharging solution that has proven to be very popular among merchants.

Payroc RewardPay

Payroc’s RewardPay gives merchants the ability to offer options to their customers and typically helps reduce their cost of card acceptance by 50% to 75% compared to traditional flat rate or interchange plus pricing plans. Granted, if a merchant’s debit to credit card ratio is high, this may not be the best option, but it’s still much cheaper to accept debit cards than credit cards.

Reality: Surcharging Opens the Door for More Payment Options

Offering a variety of payment methods is a great way for merchants to cater to younger generations who value choice at the checkout. It can go a long way in delivering a superior customer experience, and it can also benefit merchants financially.

As an added convenience to customers, merchants may offer to accept Cash and ACH payments, both of which would not be subject to surcharge pricing. The challenge is finding a complete solution for these ACH payments.

Pay by ACH

Payroc’s ACH solution, Pay by ACH (Pay by AFT in Canada) streamlines ACH payments, making them faster, more secure, and more accessible for businesses. This comprehensive platform processes over 22 million cash and check capture transactions each year, working with more than 30 banks and financial institutions.

“Surcharging Results in Overpricing”

Another concern you may hear from merchants pertains to the total ticket and how customers will react to seeing the itemized surcharge. Specifically, merchants tend to worry that the customers who make large and/or high-value purchases will, instead, choose to shop with competitors who don’t surcharge.

The knee-jerk reaction or response you may hear from merchants is that they can simply increase their prices instead of surcharging. While that might make sense on paper, it can backfire in times when inflation is a concern and merchants are forced to increase their pricing yet again. Also keep in mind that with a surcharging program, merchants don’t need to manually determine increases because credit card surcharges automatically do that for the merchant, while debit card pricing remains flat.

Reality: Surcharging Is Proportional

When talking to merchants, remind them that they are passing along a proportional expense, based on the cost of their purchase. Therefore, the higher the ticket price, the higher the surcharge, but it’s the same percentage of the total cost. This would be compared to non-compliant flat rate fee increases for using cards.

In other words, a 3% surcharge will only be 3%, whether it’s on $10 or $10,000. Merchants should also be reminded that customers making large purchases are less likely to be deterred by a surcharge.

Transparency Is Key to Surcharging Success

As is the case with most customer experience tactics, merchants should be transparent about surcharging – which has the potential to work in their favor.

Merchants must clearly display surcharge policies to make customers aware of the additional fees upfront. This will eliminate the “sticker shock” at checkout. We’ve found that when merchants clearly communicate the reason behind the surcharge with full transparency, customers tend to accept it as a fair exchange for the benefits they receive from their credit cards. Also, this transparency provides the opportunity for customers to plan their payment method accordingly.

Merchants should also consider presenting surcharging as a value proposition, as it allows them to maintain the quality of service or product without increasing prices across the board. In this way, the conversation shifts from adding costs to adding value over time.

With proper implementation, communication, and a focus on offering choices, independent agents can help merchants overcome their concerns about surcharging and recognize how it can contribute to their financial success.

At Payroc, independent agents can get started right away with a wide range of solutions. To learn more about selling merchant services with Payroc, contact us.