Processors use PCI non-compliance fees as an expensive monthly reminder to prompt businesses to become PCI compliant. Visa and MasterCard do not impose fees on businesses that are PCI non-compliant, making a PCI non-compliance fee a pure profit charge for processors.
Some processors choose to charge a PCI non-compliance fee when a business fails to provide proof that it complies with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS). Sales people in the industry sometimes justify the fee as a penalty charged by Visa and MasterCard that is simply being passed along, which is not true.
Visa & MasterCard do not charge PCI fees, but they do impose fines
Visa and MasterCard do not charge businesses or processors a fee for PCI non-compliance. However, the cards brands may impose compliance fines if non-compliance leads to a security issue or breach.
The card brands’ fines are often large, one-time charges imposed after a security-related issue occurs. PCI non-compliance fees, on the other hand, are relatively small monthly or annual fees imposed directly by processors. Since Visa and MasterCard don’t charge non-compliance fees, the revenue generated from these fees goes straight into processors’ pockets.
Processors set PCI non-compliance fees individually
It’s the responsibility of individual processors to validate compliance, so each processor chooses whether to charge a PCI non-compliance fee, and if so, how much the fee is.
PCI non-compliance fees typically range from $10 to $30 a month, but can go as high as $100 a month for processors interested in leveraging the fee for excessive profits.
How to get rid of PCI non-compliance fees
The legitimate purpose of the PCI non-compliance fee is to encourage businesses to become compliant. If you see a noncompliance fee on your credit card processing statement, call your processor and inquire about having it removed.
PCI compliance is often not as painful as it sounds. In the case of retail businesses that swipe the majority of transactions, compliance is as simple as completing a self-assessment questionnaire. In the case of e-commerce businesses, compliance entails a questionnaire and quarterly network scans.
The latter is a little more involved, but neither justify paying a PCI non-compliance fee that can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.