In this day and age, it’s vital for restaurants to accept a variety of payment methods. The first step to achieving this is picking a merchant services provider who will connect you with a merchant account. Once you have the processor of your choice, learning to read your restaurant’s credit card statement is essential to your success. These statements can be tricky for business owners, but with a little practice, you can learn how to understand this important information and maximize your restaurant’s earnings.
What Is a Restaurant Credit Card Statement?
Each month, you will receive a statement. This is a list of information about the transactions you processed and the associated credit card processing fees for your business. These are the monthly fees you pay the processor to accept credit cards in your restaurant.
The credit card statement should provide information about your earnings and deductions according to how much you processed during this cycle. Your fee schedule, rates, and more can be found in your merchant agreement.
Types of Fees
Monthly statements may include processing fees, flat fees, and situational fees. Understanding these different fees is crucial to understanding your credit card statement. It can also help you to know where your money is going.
The bulk of your monthly statement will consist of debit and credit card processing fees. Each time a customer chooses to pay by card, the transaction will have a series of fees that go to the payment processor, card brand (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc.), and issuing bank. Interchange fees are the fees determined by the card issuers and not by your payment processor. You cannot negotiate on these fees, however, your payment processor must inform you of any changes to these fees in a timely manner.
Flat fees consist of online reporting, payment gateway, network, annual, and statement fees. A variety of these credit and debit card rates and fees are negotiable depending on your chosen payment processor.
Situational fees are much more specific to the individual transactions of the given month. These fees are the result of cancellations, chargebacks, processing international credit cards, and meeting your monthly minimums. Some of these particular fees may be negotiable with your payment processor as well.
How to Read Your Monthly Statement
Now that you have an understanding of what your restaurant’s credit card statement is, let’s dive into how to make sense of the contents.
Step 1: Pay Attention to Your Effective Rate
Not all merchant statements are the same, the format varies by company and pricing model. Most statements lead with the total dollar amount of your monthly credit card transactions minus the total dollar amount of fees. This is known as your effective rate, which is essentially what you pay for restaurant merchant services.
When you receive your statement each month, take the total amount in fees and divide it by the total amount of transactions. Then multiply that number by 100. This is the percentage of fees you’re paying per transaction.
It can be easy to miss a letter or email from your payment processor about an increase in rates, change in fees, or even new charges entirely. Checking this number every month will let you know if your credit card processing fees are increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. If the number is changing, read your processing statement further so you can assess where the added fees are coming from. Then, talk to your payment processor to see if there have been any changes you should know about, or if it’s time to renegotiate your rates.
Step 2: Examine Your Credit Card Mix
Your credit card mix refers to the cost associated with each type of card and method of payment. Customers use a wide range of credit cards with various perks and rewards for cardholders. These perks and rewards can cost your business more per transaction than basic credit and debit cards. Basic cards with lower limits have lower processing fees than platinum rewards cards.
The type of cards your patrons typically use does make a difference, but that’s not to say having customers with elite credit cards is always a negative. While lower budget cards will have fewer processing fees, holders of rewards cards are more likely to dine out and will typically have a larger bill to pay at the end of the night. Based on the transaction amounts, those processing fees may be worth it to your business. International cards will have higher processing fees and per transaction situational fees. Keep this in mind if your restaurant frequently receives tourists.
Keeping track of the types of cards typical for your credit card mix will help steer your expectations for your restaurant’s monthly credit card statement. Payment processors also offer different price models so you can choose the best fit for your business. Check out your credit card mix each month on your statement to ensure your pricing model works best for your restaurant’s particular customer base.
Step 3: Review Your Payment Methods
In addition to the different types of credit cards you accept, your chosen method of payment processing can also impact your monthly fees. Certain methods of payment may cost more per transaction depending on their security. For instance, digital payments are more secure than physical swipe card readers. Payment processors will then charge more for swipe payments due to the higher risk of fraud. Since your payment processors are left liable for fraud cases, instead of your business, they charge more for riskier payment structures. So, while you want to offer flexible and convenient methods of payment to your customers, remember that the riskier the payment, the more fees your business will pay on the backend.
Step 4: Examine Your Fees
When your monthly credit card statement comes, be sure to review your flat and situational fees. Make sure you understand each fee listed and call your payment processor to discuss any negotiable fees on your statement.
When you take a look at your fees, don’t let the many abbreviations and unfamiliar terms intimidate you. Talk to your provider so you can fully understand every fee and be able to dispute charges if issues arise. If you don’t know you’re being unfairly charged, then you won’t be able to correct the mistake.
By taking a close look at your restaurant’s statement each month, you can save your business money. You can negotiate, renegotiate, or have certain fees removed entirely. You may also want to compare your fees and pricing to other payment processors to make sure you have chosen the best financial partner for your business. This way, the only thing to worry about will be serving your customers.