Credit Card Processing

Basis Points – The Basis for Fees

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March 23, 2018

The term basis point is thrown around a lot in the credit card processing industry, but many sales people fail to realize that most people aren’t quite sure exactly what a basis point is, or what it means in terms of credit card processing fees.

This article explains what a basis point is, how to calculate fees using basis points, and finally the role basis points play in credit card processing — specifically having to do with a processor’s markup.


What is a basis point?

A basis point is a unit of measurement that is equal to 1/100 of one percent, or 0.01%. A basis point expressed numerically as a decimal is equal to 0.0001.

Basis points are often abbreviated as simply “bp,” which is pronounced as “bip,” and more than one basis point is abbreviated a “bps,” pronounced as “bips.” For example, people will often say “thirty bips” instead of “thirty basis points.”

The term basis point is particularly common in financial fields where small percentages often play a role in fees or charges, such as in credit card processing. With credit card processing, basis points are most often used to refer to a processor’s markup on an interchange plus pricing model.

In fact, we’ve posted a table that shows the decimal and percentage representation of five through one hundred basis points in our article about whether a certain basis point markup is competitive.

How do you calculate basis points?

When looking to calculate basis points people usually want to know how much in fees a given number of basis points will yield over a given (sales) volume of money.

The first step in the calculation process is to convert the basis point in question to a decimal, keeping in mind that one basis point represented as a decimal is 0.0001. To perform this conversion using an equation, simply divide the number of basis points by 10,000.

For example, 25 basis points shown as a decimal is 0.0025. (25 / 10000 = 0.0025)

After converting basis points to a decimal, the next step is to multiply the decimal by the dollar volume in question.

For example, let’s assume that your business processes $20,000 a month in credit card sales volume, and a processor offers you a rate of 25 basis points over interchange fees.

The processor’s fee of 25 basis points will yield a charge of $50 over $20,000 – (0.0025 * 20000 = 50).

“No Basis Points” Markup

Occasionally, a business owner will tell us they’ve been offered processing with “no basis points” and ask if that means there’s no markup / it’s the lowest cost option. A processor claiming “no basis points” may be trying to simplify the pricing, but unfortunately it does not mean that there is no markup. Remember, basis points are simply a unit of measurement. There are other ways to express fees and costs.

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Ben Dwyer

BY Ben Dwyer

Ben Dwyer began his career in the processing industry in 2003 on the sales floor for a Connecticut‐based processor. As he learned more about the inner‐workings of the industry, rampant unethical practices, and lack of assistance available to businesses, he cut ties with his employer and started a blog where he could post accurate information about credit card processing.As the blog gained in popularity, Ben began directly assisting merchants in their search for a processor. Ben believes in empowering businesses by providing access to fair, competitive pricing, accurate information, and continued support. His dedication to transparency and education has made CardFellow a staunch small business advocate in the credit card processing industry.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. from Philip Barro, on February 9, 2016

    Hello,
    The last line in this article contains a typo
    final calculation in parenthesis shows:
    (0.0025*25000=50)
    should be:
    (0.0025*20000=50)

    • from Ellen, on February 10, 2016

      Thanks for the correction, Philip! I’ve updated the post. Good catch.