For many Americans, cash is fast becoming a relic of life before the pandemic. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last year, 41 percent of Americans said that none of their purchases in a typical week were made with cash, up from 29 percent in 2018 and 24 percent in 2015.
But as digital payments have become the norm in the past few years and new technology solutions have appeared on the market to enable these transactions, sneaky fees have also become more commonplace. Unfortunately, while these transactions can supply restaurants with data that provide a wealth of guest insights, they also deplete margins. Further, since digital payment processing is new and evolving, it involves additional fees that may be unfamiliar to operators and easy to overlook. In order to keep costs in check, it’s important to recognize the range of payment fees you may be charged, as well as what combinations of fees can signify that you should make changes or negotiate alternatives.
A recent report from Modern Restaurant Management indicated that we will likely see an increase in AI-assisted auditing services that can help restaurant operators identify and weed out these hidden fees. In the meantime, it advises operators watch for these fees on statements:
• Authorization and transaction fees: While these fees are common, you should not see both per-authorization and per-transaction fees on a single statement.
• Minimum fees: Your credit card processor may charge these fees if you don’t reach a certain threshold of payments over a set period of time. Just be aware of the terms so you know how often the fee is issued – you don’t want to be paying a daily fee when a monthly fee is possible.
• Monthly settlement fees: Many processors will charge this fee as an extension of the nominal batch fee they charge for bundles of transactions.
• PCI fees: You can avoid these fees, which can run upwards of $20 per month, by becoming compliant with payment card industry data security standards.
• Statement fees: If you’re receiving paper statements and being charged a fee for them, switch to digital statements and contact your processor about eliminating charges for them from that point forward, or at worst, when your contract is up for renewal.
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