When a merchant signs a contract with a credit card processing provider, said business owner must indicate the anticipated monthly volume, average ticket and highest ticket. Invariably, merchants (especially new ones), have an exceptionally difficult time with this processing process. It's not easy forecasting one's volume of business, let alone how much will be secured through the use of credit cards.
Despite the arduous task of anticipating limits, it is always best to OVER-estimate the volume. While the merchant needs to use reasonable assumptions in arriving at these figures, an overinflated amount may preclude a problem in the future.
Suppose a merchant indicates that the highest anticipated amount will be $ 1,000 for any given transaction. If this merchant unexpectedly makes a sale of $ 3,000, this transaction will be flagged and funds will not be released. The risk department of the processing company will verify the validity of the transaction, holding up this merchant's funds, jeopardizing needed cash flow. Subsequent transactions may be held as well, even if they fall below the highest threshold amount.
While some companies expedite the process in confirming the authenticity of transactions, other processing firms place indefinite holds on merchant accounts, refusing to release funds for weeks or even months! This is especially problematic during a merchant's busy season where monthly volume can accelerate and reach much higher levels than anticipated. Here, too, the processing companies can put the kibosh on the merchant's account until further notice (ie, when transactions are verified). Serious funding delays may materialize and the merchant may very well be out of business (legally) as funds are not released on a timely basis.
While it may appear to the merchant that the processing company does not gain any commission from held transactions, there exists a very sound reason why processors engage in such a business tactic: to protect their financial interests. Credit card processors worry that such transactions may be charged back to the merchant and that the merchant will not have sufficient funds to cover these chargebacks. Who must then issue credit to the merchant's customer? The credit card processing company must then return the deemed ill-gotten funds.
So what is an honest, hard-working merchant to do to avoid interminably held transactions – as from signing up with a reputable credit card processing company that does not indiscriminately freeze accounts or takes an inordinate amount of time to verify transactions? The merchant should initially request limits that are higher than anticipated. Of course, with higher limits, credit card processing application approval becomes a little more challenging. However, a merchant's good personal credit score should be more than sufficient for the underwriter to approve the account. (Those that do not possess favorable credit may be able to get a cosigner that does not have good credit.)
As time progresses, merchants can request a merchant limit increase as well. Those in good standing (eg, those that have not incurred chargebacks) can easily have their limits increased. As business grows, it seems logical that such limits should increase from the initial forecast.
Merchants need to know their credit card processing volume limits and attempt to expand them when necessary. In the scenario that the merchant knows that a given transaction will exceed one of the limits, a phone call to the processing company is in order. The merchant may have to provide an invoice and even business bank statements but the holding time will be less as the processor is then included in the loop from the start.
There is no guarantee that funds will never be held. Indeed, a company that suddenly takes in $ 1,000 per day when formerly taking in $ 100 per day will be under scrutiny from the credit card processing company. This company may very well have to explain the set of circumstances to the processor and share business financials. But if the merchant takes a more proactive role, keeping an all-important eye on limits and maintaining open communication with the processor, problems may be avoided.