Credit Card Processing

Mastercard Processing Integrity Fee

by

July 11, 2018

The Mastercard Processing Integrity Fee is an “assessment fee” Mastercard charges to encourage businesses to adhere to correct authorization standards for transactions.

The amount and criteria for the fee vary depending on specific circumstances, which we’ll explain in detail below.


Processing Integrity Fees Summary

As of 2018, the Processing Integrity Fees are as follows:

  • Pre-Authorization, Undefined Authorization: $0.045
  • Final Authorization: 25% of the transaction, minimum $0.04.
  • No Reversal: $0.055

Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense yet; the remainder of this article will explain when these fees would apply.

Mastercard Assessment Fees

Part of total credit card processing costs, Mastercard assessment fees are charges imposed by Mastercard in order for the company to make money. Every business that accepts credit cards pays assessment fees through their credit card processing company. The Processing Integrity Fee is one assessment that Mastercard charges.

However, unlike other assessment fees that apply any time you accept a credit card, the Processing Integrity Fee only applies in specific instances. In effect, it serves as a penalty fee for failing to meet Mastercard’s transaction authorization standards.

Processing Integrity Fee in Detail

There are several possible scenarios under which Mastercard may charge a Processing Integrity Fee, but first it’s important to understand Mastercard’s authorization definitions. Mastercard has three authorization types: pre-authorization, final authorization, and undefined authorization.

The card brand has introduced timelines for clearing or reversing transactions depending on authorization type, and charges the Processing Integrity Fee to enforce the rules. Thus, each type of authorization has a corresponding Processing Integrity Fee. Since Mastercard sets the requirements, they will charge you if you don’t meet the requirements for the authorization type.

Pre-Authorization

A pre-authorization is a transaction where a business requests an authorization for an estimated amount where the final amount of the transaction is unknown. Common scenarios for pre-auths include car rental, restaurants that accept tips, and hotels accepting cards to secure a booking.

With a pre-authorization, the authorization amount must be greater than $0, and the authorization must be submitted for settlement within 30 calendar days. Therefore, authorizations that aren’t captured (or ‘batched’) must be reversed to avoid incurring a Processing Integrity Fee.

Mastercard sets the pre-authorization Processing Integrity Fee at $0.045 per incorrectly authorized transaction.

Final Authorization

A final authorization is a transaction where a business requests an authorization for a known, final amount. Most “card-present” transactions such as purchases in a retail store utilize this type of authorization.

With a final authorization, the authorization amount must be greater than $0 and must be submitted for settlement (or reversed) within 7 calendar days. Additionally, the authorized amount should equal the final clearing amount, and the authorized currency code should match the clearing currency code.

Final authorization transactions that don’t meet Mastercard’s criteria will incur the Processing Integrity Fee: Final Authorization. As of 2018, Mastercard sets the Final Authorization Processing Integrity Fee at 0.25% of the transaction amount, with a minimum charge of $0.04.

Undefined Authorization

An undefined authorization is a transaction where a business requests an authorization for an amount that may be different in the final transaction, and isn’t marked as another authorization type. The authorization amount must be greater than $0, and the business must submit it for settlement within 7 calendar days. If you don’t capture (batch) an authorization, you should reverse it to avoid a Processing Integrity Fee. Mastercard is working to limit undefined authorizations. Some processors will automatically assign an authorization type to transactions to avoid the undefined authorization tag.

Mastercard sets the undefined authorization fee at $0.045.

Other Rules

In addition to the specific rules noted above, you must reverse authorizations within 24 hours for cancelled transactions or for transactions where the final amount is lower than the authorized amount. A “no reversal” Processing Integrity Fee of $0.055 will be applied when an authorization transaction can’t be matched to a settlement record after 120 days.

Locating the Processing Integrity Fee on Statements

On interchange plus and tiered pricing models, the Processing Integrity Fee will be listed with your other Mastercard assessment fees. Remember that you may not see a Processing Integrity Fee on all statements, or even any of your statements. You’ll only incur charges if your transactions fail Mastercard’s requirements.

Your processor may abbreviate the Processing Integrity Fee or call it by another name. In the statement snippet below, there are two Processing Integrity Fees with different abbreviations, even though this is one monthly statement from a single processor.

Processing Integrity Fee example

In one line, the processor abbreviated the fee (Proc Integ) and specifies it’s for an undefined authorization. The other is even shorter, with PIF standing for Processing Integrity Fee and the notation that it’s for final authorization issues.

If you’re on a flat rate pricing model, you won’t see assessments on your monthly statements. You’re still paying them, but the processor lumps them together with other fees. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to determine if you’re paying unnecessary fees.

If you do see Processing Integrity Fees regularly, you should work to eliminate the issues that cause the fee. CardFellow clients, please contact us for assistance.

Lowering Your Mastercard Acceptance Costs

Assessment fees are non-negotiable component of credit card processing costs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t lower your overall costs to take Mastercard. Many businesses can lower their costs by securing a more competitive markup from a processor.

Processor quote comparison services, like CardFellow’s, can help you find the best possible pricing for your business. If you think you’re overpaying to take credit cards, sign up for a free, no-obligation account with CardFellow to see what pricing you’re eligible for with multiple different companies. Try it today!

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Ellen Cunningham

BY Ellen Cunningham

Ellen has a degree in English, which she puts to work every day researching and writing articles, processor reviews, and social media posts. She enjoys the challenge of explaining complex topics - making her a perfect fit for credit card processing - and strongly believes in CardFellow's mission of empowering business owners through education.When she's not busy following the latest industry news, Ellen can be found cycling the beautiful trails of southern New England, narrowly losing at pub quizzes, or practicing her trapeze skills in aerial circus class.

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