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Credit Card Processing FAQ
Credit Card Processing FAQ

Select a topic from the menu below:

Authorizations and Deposits
Sales Drafts


What is an Authorization?
As the name implies, an authorization is a transaction you use to:

Help verify that the card is not counterfeit
Verify that the cardholder has sufficient credit for the purchase
Place a "hold" on the cardholder¡¯s credit line for the amount of the transaction

Can you explain my ¡°Pass Through Fees¡±?
Pass Thru Fees are charges that all Acquirer/Processors pay directly to Visa/MC for the use of their networks. Those fees are based on variables associated with your specific processing method. For example, the lowest Pass-Thru fees are typically given in a Face-to-Face swiped transaction where the card and cardholder are both present.

What is a deposit? Do I need to process a deposit for every sale?
A deposit is the transaction that withdraws funds from the cardholder¡¯s credit line and deposits them into your sponsoring bank account (or other account you¡¯ve designated). Every sale must include an authorization and a deposit, in that order. Usually, in a retail setting, the authorization and deposit are handled as a single "sale" transaction. In mail order or other "non-magnetic" transactions, the deposit might come hours or even days after the authorization, and is timed to the delivery of the goods.

How long do I need to wait for the proceeds of a deposit to be made available in my bank account?
Most Credit Card Processors will normally deposit your funds in 2-3 days.

Do I need to run the authorization separate from the deposit transaction?

No. When the goods or services are being delivered immediately, you will use the SALE transaction (or Authorization and Deposit transaction). So, in addition to authorizing the charge, it deposits the funds for the sale into your checking account.

I¡¯ve already obtained an authorization. Do I still need to process a deposit?

Yes. The funds will not be available to you unless you process the deposit.

What Is an Authorization Number?
An authorization number, whether obtained electronically through your POS system, your PC processing system, the Internet, or from a representative at the Visa/MasterCard authorization center, indicates that the transaction has credit available on the card and that the transaction is not disputed by the cardholder.

Why do I sometimes get a "call voice center" response when I try to get a credit card authorized?
There are two primary reasons you might get this response. First, the automated, communications system processor uses to receive authorizations may be inoperable for some reason. This happens very infrequently, but in those cases you are advised to call the voice center.

The second reason this might occur is the card-issuing bank may want to talk to you before they approve the transaction. This can be due to a reported stolen card or just a lot of transactions in a short time (holiday shopping).


What is a Sales Draft?
A Sales Draft is a receipt of acknowledgement that the credit card customer signs upon completion of the transaction. A Sales Dradt is automaticall generated and signed by the customer during most face-to-face credit card transactions.

When do I Still Need A Sales Draft?
For every face-to-face credit card sale, a sales draft must be completed. This draft is a legal and binding contract between you and your customer.

If you have a POS system with a printer attached, it will automatically generate a sales draft for credit cards that are deposited electronically. When the draft has finished printing, present it to the cardholder for signature. Give the cardholder the bottom copy of the draft and retain the top copy (with the original signature) for your files.

Do I Need to Have an Imprint of the Card for it to be Accepted for Payment?

Yes. The imprint of the card is your proof that the actual card was present at the time of the transaction. This proof is critical in the case of a disputed transaction and could make the difference between your being liable for a transaction or not.

What Information Needs to be on the Sales Draft?

Whether printed by your POS system printer or produced manually on an imprinter, the sales draft must contain:

The credit card number (recorded from the card¡¯s magnetic stripe or imprinted)
Authorization and Reference Numbers
Signature of customer
The card¡¯s expiration date
Date of sale
Amount of sale, including tax
Description of goods/services

What Do I Do with My Copies of the Sales Draft?

You are required to keep your drafts for three years (even if you sell your business). In the event of a question or chargeback, you may be required to produce the signed sales draft. Check with your accountant for guidance before destroying sales drafts.


What Is A Credit?
A credit is a refund issued by you to a legitimate customer due to a return, cancellation of a sale or entry error. This transaction reduces your day¡¯s processing total.

When Should I Issue A Credit?

A credit is required when a customer returns merchandise or cancels a sale and requests a refund on the amount of the return. You should process the credit through your POS system if the original transaction was electronically deposited.

Am I Required To Issue A Credit?

No. But even if it is your store policy not to issue credits, your customer has the right to seek reimbursement through chargeback procedures.

If your store incurs excessive chargebacks, you may be required to pay additional fees and, in extreme cases, have your right to accept VISA or MasterCard revoked. Therefore, a refund to one dissatisfied customer may be better than a potential chargeback ¡ª but you must make that decision.


What Is A Chargeback?

A cardholder may dispute a charge for many reasons (see below). The cardholder is within his/her legal rights to begin procedures to dispute the charge up to six months after the date of sale, although in some cases the charge may be disputed up to 3 years after.

Am I Liable for Chargebacks?

Yes, if the customer has a valid dispute with the charge in question and you do not satisfactorily remedy the situation. If, however, the customer doesn¡¯t have a valid dispute and you complied with processing regulations, you may not be liable.

What are some of the Different Types of Chargebacks?
A sale can be charged back for more that 35 valid reasons, the four most common are:

no signature on a draft
failure to fulfill a request for a sales draft
no imprint on a draft
unauthorized purchase
For more information and FAQs on chargebacks, click here.

What Is the Chargeback Procedure?

Most often, the first stage of a chargeback proceedure comes in the form of a ¡®retrieval request.¡¯ A retrieval request is a request from a card-issuing bank to see an original, photocopy or fax of a sales draft to prove the validity of the sale. If one of your customers disputes a VISA or MasterCard sale, you will receive a letter of notification and be requested to send a copy of the signed copy of the draft or other information to your processor.

In most cases, if your records are complete and you have complied with credit card regulations, you can successfully contest chargebacks. It is also possible that the initiation of a chargeback will cause the cardholder¡¯s bank to withdraw funds from your bank account. Note that you would be notified by letter after your account has been debited. This is why we always encourage merchants to maintain a balance in their accounts.

What Is My Responsibility?

You are required to locate the signed copy of the draft or other requested information and send a copy of it to your processor within the time allowed. Failure to do so will result in a chargeback due to non-receipt of requested item. Your Credit Card Processors may request copies up to three years following the date of sale.

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