Ins and Outs of Credit Card Programs


FON- Are there special processing rates available to heating fuels retailers?

Richmond- YES!  There are special interchange categories for your industry.  The categories are greatly reduced from general processing rates and even different than petroleum retailers.  But then it gets confusing.  Each of the card types have different programs.  MasterCard and Discover have the most attractive processing rates and Visa has a good program too. 


FON- If the programs are all different, how do retailers know if they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to receive?

Richmond- It’s important to know that not everyone can be a specialist in ALL aspects of card processing.  The processing programs your readers are entitled to participate in take a special knowledge.  It’s important they ask to see actual processing statements from other heating fuels retailers.  Then it’s imperative that the statement show the discounted programs for ALL THREE card types. 


FON- If a dealer is ‘enrolled” in these programs they should feel comfortable that they are getting all these benefits?

Richmond- Actually, NO.  It’s not that simple.  Just signing up does not get them there.  The vast majority of processing statements we see don’t have the full advantages utilized.  I would say over 75 percent of the dealers I talk to still have a lot of savings that is untapped! 


FON- Do these programs add up to any significant savings?

Richmond- YES!  Let me give you an example, if a dealer is enrolled correctly for all three programs AND is passing the processing data correctly, their processing rates should be below 1.5 percent.  Compare that to most processing statements we see and the savings can be over $.05/gallon!  That really starts to add up.


FON- Is it true that by utilizing these programs the dealers should not pre-authorize a card prior to delivery?

Richmond- Yes and no.  Again, each program has specific guidelines for how to run transactions, including pre-authorizations.  As long as you are being told the correct information and are following those steps, there are ways to accomplish this.  If your processing rates are not below 1.5 percent with or without pre-authorizations, you should investigate.  The only exception to this rule is if your company runs a high percentage of corporate cards.  Those cards do NOT qualify for the reduced rates and could raise your average rate.




Tracy Richmond is the co-owner of AVATAS Payment Solutions in Beverly, Mass. She can be reached at or 866-849-8800.


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