By Phil Nieto, President; Best Card

Dentistry can be an isolating profession, and it can be difficult to know how your practice’s volume and profitability compares with those of your peers.

In this article, Best Card—the endorsed payment processor of TDA Perks Program and ADA Member Advantage—used data from thousands of dental offices it’s worked with over the past 15 years to provide insight into what the average dental practice experienced.

  • How much does the average dental office collect in credit card payments?
  • Have dentists raised their prices to keep up with inflation?
  • What are other dentists paying to accept credit card payments?
  • How much SHOULD you be paying?

You may find drastic changes have slipped under your radar—even as they significantly affect you.

How much does the average dental office collect in credit cards?

In 2023, the average dental office ran $44,925 in credit card payments per month. That figure represents a:

  • 45.5% increase over the 2019 average ($30,876).
  • 195% increase over the 2009 average ($15,221).

Today the average practice runs almost 3 times as much in credit cards as it did in 2009!
Dental offices saw a large increase in the total amount of credit card payments collected over the past 10+ years. But Covid accelerated that trend considerably, as patients moved towards payment methods that were more convenient and involved less physical contact. Furthermore, many insurance providers started issuing virtual credit cards as payment for their remittances, which also increased the amount of card payments accepted.

Have practices raised their costs to keep up with inflation?

Every dentist knows Covid and the resulting supply chain and inflation issues increased the costs of many items used regularly in the practice. In response, many dentists had to raise their prices over the last several years.
We can clearly see this trend across all practices by looking at the size of the average payment.

Average Card-Payment Amount

The average credit card payment accepted by dental offices increased by 11.87% from 2019–2023, a four-year period. It was $306 in 2023 and $273 in 2019.

The average payment only increased by 0.12% from 2009–2019, a 10-year period. 2023 saw a slight decrease in the average payment compared with 2022—from $307 to $306, indicating increases due to inflation may be slowing.

The Consumer Price Index shows inflation in the U.S. from 2019–2023 was 19.2%.

This means the 11.87% increase (in the average dental transaction amount) during the same time period didn’t keep up with the economy-wide price hike, though the increase was substantial compared to 2009-2019.

What does the average practice pay to run cards?

With more patients and insurance providers choosing to pay with cards, accepting cards ensures offices can quickly and easily collect payments. But accepting cards is also a much more substantial factor in a practice’s profitability than in the past.

While the average dental office’s payment volume increased, the costs to run those payments has also increased—and processing fees can be hard to understand. However, it’s easy to discern their impact on your bottom line.

To do this, you need to calculate your effective rate with simple math:

Total Fees Paid (for the month) ÷ Total Amount Run in Card Sales (for the month) = Your Effective Rate

In 2023, the average dental office in the U.S. paid 3.53%, compared to 3.06% in 2019. These rates are already too high; but to put it in perspective, in 2014, the average dental office paid 2.84%.

What this means is, the average practice pays more per payment (as a percentage) while accepting 45% more card payments than it did before the pandemic. This is significant, as you’ll see in the following.

The average office ran the following in card payments:

  • $30,876 at 3.06% for a total of $944/month in fees in 2019.
  • $45,000 at 3.45% for a total of $1,585/month in fees in 2023.

That’s a cost increase of $7,692/year in 4 years.

What can you do?

It’s easy to overlook small increases in the costs of services you’re using, but those small increases are frequently enough to have a big impact. Any part of your business that increases substantially over time should be analyzed periodically so you know how it’s affecting your bottom line.

With credit card processing, the first step you can take is to calculate the effective rate you’re paying, as mentioned above. The average office paid more than 3.53% in 2023; however, TDA members working with Best Card paid 2.22% in 2023 for an average savings of $6,496 per year.

If you see you’re paying more to accept credit cards, it might be time to look for a better option.

Best Card is the endorsed credit card processor of TDA Perks Program and ADA Member Advantage. You can send Best Card a recent monthly statement via email to Compare@bestcardteam.com or you can fax it to (866) 717-7247 to receive a complimentary cost analysis and learn exactly what your practice could be saving. Best Card offers exclusive rates to TDA members.