By Phil Nieto, President; Best Card

Your practice has probably long accepted credit card payments. But if you’re not vigilantly monitoring your processing fees, there’s a good chance they’re creeping up and affecting your bottom line.

With all the confusing fees on your statement, how can you tell if you’re paying too much?

Check if your effective rate is too high.

“The first thing every practice should do is calculate the effective rate it’s paying,” says Phil Nieto, president of Best Card, the ADA Member Advantage and TDA Perks Program-endorsed credit card processing company.

“Your effective rate is your average cost to run cards, and it’s very easy to calculate. Grab your latest monthly statement and divide the dollar amount of the processing fees you were charged by the total amount of your [credit card] sales that month.

For example, if your office paid $1,027 to run $37,355 in card sales, your calculation would look like this:

$1,027 ÷ $37,355 = 2.75%

“Based on our 2022 comparisons, the average rate dental offices pay is 3.38%, but you should be shooting for a rate closer to 2.1–2.2%.”

If so, here’s how to bring your costs down.

There are a lot of factors that affect how much you might be paying in fees, and processors can add or raise fees anytime if they provide you with a 30-day notice in small print at the bottom of your monthly statement.

“Changing providers or renegotiating can be ways to save a lot, but once you have a great deal, there are also some steps you and your staff can take to bring your costs down,” Mr. Nieto said.

  • Accept payment directly from the patient—in person—via chip, contactless, or swipe whenever possible. You’ll be charged a lower rate than if you had you keyed in the same cards. Because there’s less risk of fraud when the patient and card are present, lower fees are charged.
  • If you’re going to manually enter a card number or have a patient pay online, make sure to include the 5-digit zip code and 3-to 4-digit card security code whenever possible. This is an anti-fraud check, and if it passes you are charged a lower rate than if you don’t put in that information or have the wrong information for the cardholder.
  • Encourage patients to use a debit card instead of a credit card; and avoid insurance payments made on credit cards. Since different cards run at different rates, any patient payments made with a debit card (no PIN required) should result in substantially lower fees than with credit cards. And when credit cards are used to make insurance payments, they tend to be the most expensive type of card.
In 2022, Best Card helped 96% of practices pay lower fees than what they paid with their previous card processor and provided an average savings of more than $5,500 per practice. The company offers a free savings analysis to help practices understand their current fees and potential savings. Email a recent credit card processing statement to compare@bestcardteam.com or fax to (866) 717-7247.