Fight COVID-19 by Sharing Your Credit Card Processing Costs

John Shipley


Even in a strong economy, cash flow can be a real struggle for small business owners. Add to that a global pandemic, and it's easy to see why many small businesses struggle to stay afloat. Current conditions have already caused some business owners to close up shop while others are operating on drastically reduced hours or shifting to new channels, such as e-Commerce, curbside pickup, delivery and more.

To get a closer look at how COVID-19 is impacting businesses and our communities, Goldman Sachs recently conducted a survey of 10,000 small business owners. They found that 51% of respondents didn't think they would be able to keep their doors open for more than three months.

This sobering statistic is why more and more business owners are looking into programs that can help them share their credit card processing costs with the customers. True Cash Discount and Surcharging programs can help business owners cut costs and save money.

These programs result in real saving for business owners across the county. In fact, Clearent saves customers who participate in the Empower Program $17,000,000 a year simply by sharing their credit card processing costs with their customers. This breaks down to an average of $9,500 a year per business. Just think about how you could put that money to good use to help stabilize your business.

To figure out if these programs are right for your business, start by asking yourself the following questions.

Are you open to sharing your processing fees with your customers?
Some business owners are nervous about how their customers will react to paying all or a portion of their processing fees. However, consumers are used to paying more in order to use a credit card. Paying utility bills online and buying movie tickets online are both great examples. Plus, many consumers are looking for ways to support their favorite small business during the COVID-19 crisis. Sharing the cost of processing with the business owner is one way they can do that.

Are you willing to raise your prices?
All programs, including True Cash Discount and Surcharging require that the business owner raises their prices. This is so you can build in the cost of processing.

Would you like your customers to receive an additional charge or get a discount?
This question is all about how you would like to position the program to your customers. Do you want them to pay an additional fee for using credit or Signature debit, or would you prefer to give them a discount when they pay with cash?

Are you willing to build your processing costs into the cost of your goods and services?
If you currently take credit card fees into account when pricing your products and services, or are willing to do so, offering a Cash Discount is simple. As long as those prices are posted, you can offer a discount on those set prices to customers who pay with cash.

Are you willing to reprice your store to show both the card and cash prices and follow state and card brand rules?
Depending on the type of program you are running and where you are located, you may be required to list the card and cash price, or credit and cash price, for each item you sell. Clearent provides free signage that makes this easy but depending on how many items you sell it could be time consuming to update your pricing for all products.

Are you willing to post the signage required by Visa and Mastercard?
Signage is mandatory when you participate in the Empower Program. Consumers value transparency, so prominently displaying signage at the entrance of your business and at the point of sale keeps them in the loop about your pricing policies and helps you be in compliance with the card brands.

Are you located in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts or Oklahoma?
This is important because surcharging is prohibited in these states. True Cash Discount is the best way for merchants in these states to share their processing costs with their customers.

Remember, every penny counts. With the Empower Program from Clearent, we can help you make sure that each penny is being spent wisely.