Credit card processing is a complicated system of percentages, fees and points. In the article below we specifically focus on basis points and how merchant account fees are calculated using basis points. This will especially help in understanding how a processor uses basis points to generate fees.
What is a “Basis Point?”
In terms of credit card processing, one basis point is typically 1/100 of one percent. Basis points are usually incredibly small percentages. These small numbers and percentages are extremely important to the payment processor and sponsoring bank. They are used to calculate almost every single transaction that has to do with accepting credit cards or non cash payments in general.
What Are the Basis Points Conversion Formulas?
Basis points are typically used when calculating both tiered pricing models as well as the interchange pricing models. However, for each model they are used in different capacities. Tiered pricing basis points tend to change much more frequently than interchange basis points.
When signing up for tiered pricing, your merchant account provider will gather as much information as needed to offer you the best discounts within the tiers.
The reason why basis points change is due to the different rules that apply to different pricing tiers. Each credit card transaction is graded and if it doesn’t meet the requirements for the lowest discount, then your basis points will increase.
To understand basis points calculated per transaction, you need to convert the number of basis points to a decimal amount. You will then need to multiply that number by the dollar volume of transactions.
Converting Basis Points to Percentages
To get started you would want to convert the basis point to a decimal. Keep in mind that one basis point is 1/100 of a percent or 0.0001 as a decimal. If your processor charged you a rate of 100 basis points, then you can quickly turn that into a percentage by multiplying 100 by 0.0001 (100 X 0.0001). This would be 0.01 or 1%. This would mean that your processor charges 1% in transaction fees.
Converting Percentages to Basis Points
If you wanted to figure out the basis points calculated for credit card processing, then you simply need to reverse the above formula. For example, if your percentage rate is 1.25%, then you would need to convert that to decimal form. Simply take 1.25% and convert to 0.0125 simply take 0.0125 (1.25% / 100) and divide by 0.0001 to get 125 basis points.
The term “basis points” may be abbreviated on your merchant account statement as “bp” or “bps.”
Basis Point Conversion Chart
Now that we’ve explained the formula behind the basis point conversion, we are including an easy to read basis point conversion chart.
How Are Changes in Basis Points Calculated?
Basis points are used because the financial industry is always dealing with such small percentages. Rates can vary quite a bit per transaction due to different factors such as non-qualified transactions, mid-qualified transactions and surcharges that can be added to the qualified rate. Using basis points is an easy way to show different rate changes that are less than one percent.
For example, a payment processor may tag a transaction as falling under a mid-qualified rate. If your mid-qualified transactions rate was 50 basis points, then the rate of 0.50% would be applied to that transaction. This would mean that any transaction falling under the mid-qualified rate will be charged 0.50% higher than the qualified rate.
Reasons Transaction Does Not Meet the Qualified Rate
When your basis points change, it is usually due to the transaction not meeting the qualified rate standards. Reasons this may happen can be due to the following:
A transaction batch is not settled within 48 hours.
The original sale price of an item does not match the price that was authorized by the merchant account provider
You are unable to match a customer’s address with the address on file through the Address Verification System (AVS).
The magnetic strip on the back of the credit or debit card is not sending completed information to the merchant account provider.
However, there are many other reasons for as transaction to downgrade. Please make sure and consult with your SecureGlobalPay professional so they can help you avoid these costly downgrades.
What If I Have an Interchange Pricing Model?
The interchange pricing model is quite different than the tiered pricing model. The interchange pricing model usually includes two different fees. The agreed upon basis point and the authorization fee which is paid to your payment processor. The fee is determined either per transaction or by credit card processing volume.
With the interchange pricing model, the rate does not change per transaction. The pricing is usually set by Visa or MasterCard as well as the financial institution who is processing your credit card payment.
How Do Basis Points Work with the Interchange
Basis points are still used to calculate the rate per transaction for the Interchange Pricing Model. However, once this rate has been set, then it will stay the same for every transaction. Qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified credit card processing rates do not apply.
Please keep in mind that many small businesses are not offered the option of using the interchange pricing model as it is generally available for businesses that do high dollar volume per month.
However, we do see more and more customers who find that interchange pricing works for them. Many businesses like knowing that no matter what type of transaction they are processing the percentage fee and per transaction fee will stay the same.
What Should I do If Notice My Basis Points Have Increased?
If you notice a problem with your basis point fees, then you will want to contact SecureGlobalPay immediately. We can request a report that will summarize in detail the reason that you are receiving different pricing. This report will help us narrow down the problem so that we can help you make the necessary changes to avoid higher fees.