Seven Reasons a Card Processing Review Could Save You Millions

24th August 2018
Alistair Matthewson
Alistair Matthewson

If you have any dealings with your payments budget, you will be uneasy about the often-perplexing invoices you pay. It’s no secret that card processing arrangements for merchants of any size are complex and opaque. So, it won’t surprise you that CMSPI analysis has revealed that many merchants in the U.S. are being consistently overcharged, often by millions of dollars every year.

We’ve helped some of the largest merchants in the world conduct invoice audits and the results have been alarming – often finding overcharges ranging from six to seven-figure sums annually.

Some merchants are particularly vulnerable depending on the nature of their payments mix and the players in their individual payments supply chain. The payments landscape is complex and changing rapidly, so merchants must ensure they are vigilant and that fees are reviewed regularly.

We’ve compiled a list of seven (not so magnificent) reasons your MSC invoice may contain errors…


1) Misapplied rates – The varying rates applied to your transactions could be incorrect. Different payment types, channels, and transaction values, incur different rates. Having true visibility of whether these rates are being charged correctly is extremely difficult to understand from monthly invoices, with many charges hidden in complex management information, and opaque reporting data.

2) Umbrella charges – In some instances, small fees may be blended together on your invoice under an “umbrella charge”. This blended charge leaves room for an added premium, so it’s important that you understand the individual make up of these blended fees. 

3) Rounding up – Rounding up fractional fees, while it might not seem likely to be a large cost, can result in significant overcharge – especially for merchants that process a high volume of transactions.

4) Phantom fees – Your payments profile is complex, so it makes sense that your invoice breakdown is equally as complex. Different transactions incur different fee types, and this complexity leaves room for phantom fees to go unnoticed. 

5) Keying Errors – There are over 700 charge types you might see in your invoices. This is a staggering amount and to make matters worse, these change regularly. So naturally, keying errors are not only possible but likely.

6) Pass through fees – Pass through fees, passed on to merchants by card processors from the card networks, can often contain hidden premiums. These pass-through costs are complex and often involve exchange rate fluctuations, settlement timescale differences, variations in pricing structures and many more factors.

7) Non-standard transactions – Non-standard transactions can often incur excessive fees.

With over 700 possible charges and fees, which are often hidden or blended together, it’s easy to see how even one of the seven reasons listed above could be negatively impacting your bottom-line. These fees are complex. They are changing constantly. And they are increasing in number year-on-year.

Brendan Doyle | CMSPI CEO

All of these complexities make it impossible for merchants to thoroughly audit their merchant service charge. Without the necessary information, internal resource and knowledge to navigate through that information, and without the industry insight needed to accurately benchmark what fees should be applied to what transaction, many merchants will be overpaying by substantial six and seven-figure sums every year. These overcharges aren’t necessarily lost however and conducting a thorough historical invoice audit could mean large reclaim values are up for grabs. In a payments landscape where fees are ever-increasing, and the payments mix is shifting quickly, merchants can’t afford to assume their invoices are mistake free – start your audit today. 

Want to start your invoice health check?