It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but a savvy business person can get the most competitive pricing for the Authorize.net gateway while paying as little as possible in credit card processing fees by not getting either service through Authorize.net.
Authorize.net is a great gateway provider, but it’s not a credit card processor. It actually farms out its credit card processing to its parent company, CyberSource. It also charges higher fees for its gateway than some of its resellers.
As I’ll outline in detail below, there are a few different ways a business can obtain the Authorize.net gateway along with credit card processing services. Both, one, or neither service can be obtained directly through Authorize.net. But this is one instance where it’s actually in a business’s best interest not to go directly to the source.
Here are the three options for using Authorize.Net:
- Obtain Gateway and Credit Card Processing Through Authorize.Net
- Obtain Gateway Through Authorize.Net, Credit Card Processing Elsewhere
- Neither Gateway Nor Credit Card Processing Through Authorize.Net
Obtain Gateway and Credit Card Processing Through Authorize.Net
The first and most prominently displayed option on its web site is for a business to acquire both a gateway and payment processing directly through Authorize.net. For reasons I’ll explain below, this is not ideal for most businesses.
Authorize.net outlines the details for this option on its Web site almost too simply, so much so that there are at least a couple glaring discrepancies between its posted information and its formal merchant service agreement.
The “free” additional services include the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite, customer information management, recurring billing, QuickBooks integration, and check processing capabilities.
- Setup fee: $49
- Processing fees: 2.90% + $0.30*
- Monthly gateway: $25
- Gateway transaction fee: $0
- Gateway batch fee: $0
* The rate of 2.90% and transaction fee of $0.30 are the only processing charges disclosed on Authorize.Net’s site. However, in “SECTION 3.1 SERVICE FEES,” paragraph A of the merchant service agreement, it states:
“If any Card transaction fails to meet the criteria for a qualified transaction, Merchant will be charged the fees applicable to non-qualified transactions.”
The information shown on Authorize.Net’s Web site does not disclose the criteria for a qualified transaction or the fees for non-qualified transactions.
Authorize.net says on its web site that it doesn’t charge a cancellation fee, but the CyberSource Merchant Services Agreement that a business must accept to get an account says something very different.
Authorize.net states, “…we try to keep it simple by eliminating unanticipated “gotcha” fees and long-term contracts.” This implies that there is no long-term contract or cancellation penalty. However, in “SECTION 7.1 TERM AND TERMINATION OF AGREEMENT,” paragraph G, the merchant service agreement states:
“In the event Merchant terminates this Agreement before expiration of the Initial Term or any Renewal Term then in effect … Merchant shall pay an early termination fee of three hundred fifty dollars (US $350.00) if such termination occurs in the first year of the then current term, or two hundred fifty dollars (US $250.00) if such termination occurs in the second year of the then current term, or as otherwise set forth in the Fee Schedule.”
The problem is that Authorize.net does not provide a pricing schedule to negate the cancellation fee prior to requiring a business to accept the agreement with the above terms.
CardFellow recommendation: Obtain Authorize.Net services elsewhere.
Simple pricing is not necessarily competitive pricing.
Assuming for a moment that Authorize.net actually won’t impose the non-qualified surcharge mentioned in its processing agreement, its pricing is best described as flat rate, which is a form of tiered/bundled pricing. This type of pricing is fundamentally less competitive and transparent than others, such as interchange-plus pricing.
2.90% with a $0.30 transaction fee is considerably higher than most popular interchange categories that account for the majority of a processor’s cost, and it amounts to a significantly higher effective rate than competitive interchange-plus options such as those offered through CardFellow.
For example, a business that processes $10,000 a month with an average sale of $25 will pay Authorize.net $410 in processing fees (($10,000 * .029) + (400 * $0.30)). That’s an effective rate of 4.10%!
A competitive interchange-plus account obtained through CardFellow’s marketplace will yield an effective rate around 2.30% to process the same amount of volume. That’s a cost reduction of $180. I’ll explain how to get the Authorize.net gateway along with this competitive pricing in the last section of this article.
“Free” is never free.
Authorize.net provides many of its add-on services “free” if a business also uses its processing services. If a business does not obtain processing through Authorize.net it will have to purchase these services individually at a cost of about $10 per month. For most businesses, the additional cost of Authorize.Net’s processing will far eclipse the $10 monthly fee associated with the one or two add-on services it will use.
Obtain Gateway Through Authorize.net, Credit Card Processing Elsewhere
To its credit, Authorize.net does allow businesses to obtain a gateway directly while getting processing services elsewhere. This is an ideal option for businesses that want to maintain ownership and control of the gateway account while having the option to pay competitive processing fees.
With this option, the “free” additional services include the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite, customer information management, and recurring billing options.
- Setup fee: $49
- Processing fees: — varies by processor —
- Monthly gateway: Monthly gateway: $25
- Gateway transaction fee: $10
- Gateway batch fee: $0.10
This option allows a business to obtain processing services outside of Authorize.net. You’ll pay gateway fees directly to Authorize.Net and processing fees to your credit card processor. If you already “own” your Authorize.Net account and are looking for a new processor, you can use CardFellow’s free quote request tool to get a quote for processing only.
CardFellow Recommendation: Worth considering. Not the least expensive choice, but a good way to save on processing fees.
You’ll get ownership of the gateway and lower processing costs – a good compromise.
The gateway fees increase a little, but processing fees (if obtained through CardFellow) will drop a lot compared to Authorize.Net’s 2.90% and $0.30 charges.
A little-known fact about Authorize.net is that the party that sets up a gateway account is the owner. Therefore, if you set up an account directly, you own the account and can use it with any processor you choose. You can also switch from one processor to the next without worrying about losing transaction history stored in the gateway.
Conversely, if a gateway is set up by a reseller/processor on behalf of a business the reseller owns the gateway. Note that this allows the reseller to lock the gateway account so that a business cannot use it with another processor. This is a potential headache that creates a barrier to a business moving from one processor to another because all gateway history will be lost.
For this reason, many businesses in the know prefer to pay a few extra bucks to set the Authorize.net gateway up directly in order to retain ownership and avoid any potential headaches if a processor switch is required.
I should note that not all processors lock a gateway. In many cases, processors will allow a business to bring the gateway to another processor. However, there’s no guarantee.
Some “add-ons” are still free.
The most popular add-on services remain free of charge if you obtain the gateway directly from Authorize.net. This is helpful if you plan on using one or more of these services. None of the add-on services are free if neither the gateway nor processing are obtained through Authorize.net.
Go here to request a no-obligation quote for processing with your existing Authorize.Net account.
Neither Gateway Nor Processing Through Authorize.net
The final option is to get both the gateway and credit card processing services through an Authorize.net reseller. Any processor is compatible with Authorize.net, so there are far more options than those listed on the reseller page of Authorize.Net’s Web site. As noted above, savvy business people can leverage CardFellow to find the most competitive option.
With this choice, ownership of the gateway will reside with the processor. This may cause an issue down the road if a business attempts to switch to a new processor and the current processor won’t release the gateway. However, many processors, such as those that offer certified quotes through CardFellow, will release a gateway if a business wants to switch processors.
With this option, a business can still choose to add functions like recurring billing to the gateway. However, it will cost more to do so. However, the costs to add the optional features is made up in lower processing costs.
- Setup fee: — varies by processor —
- Processing fees: — varies by processor —
- Monthly gateway: — varies by processor —
- Gateway transaction fee: — varies by processor —
- Gateway batch fee: — varies by processor —
All of the pricing noted as “varies by processor” means that the costs are subject to the processor’s reseller fees and markup. Resellers purchase the Authorize.net gateway at a reduced cost. If they choose, they can markup that cost when reselling it businesses. However, some resellers may choose to provide the gateway at reseller rates, which will be less than the costs advertised by Authorize.net.
The “processing fees” for this option are the same as above in the “Obtain Gateway Through Authorize.Net, Credit Card Processing Elsewhere” section.
CardFellow Recommendation: Use this option if lowest total cost is your priority.
Access to reseller pricing.
Processors often pass reseller pricing to businesses at little or no markup. This results in gateway setup, monthly fees, and transaction fees that are less than those advertised with a direct Authorize.net account.
If you’re considering this option and want to see Authorize.Net pricing for your business, you can get a quote to review in private using CardFellow’s quote request tool. This tool is the easiest way to obtain the most competitive Authorize.Net-compatible processing solution. All certified quotes placed through CardFellow use only the most competitive, transparent pricing and terms to yield an effective rate that is far lower than that produced by Authorize.Net’s 2.90% and $0.30 charges. Simply sign up for a free account with our quick form to get quotes instantly. When you see a quote you like, click the “Add Inventory” button, click “Gateways,” locate Authorize.Net and then click the “Add to this quote” button, as seen in the screenshot below.