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If you’re like best dental offices, you get calls from acclaim agenda processors able abundant accumulation that never materialize. You may acquire switched a few times, block the everyman rates, alone to acquisition that you’re still advantageous added than you acquire to.

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Accepting acclaim cards at your dental convenance can advance banknote breeze and abate agents time spent block bottomward backward invoices. However, abounding practices aren’t accustomed with the capacity of processing, consistent in annoyance over aerial fees or a arrangement that doesn’t clothing your needs.

Credit agenda processing is circuitous at the best of times, but for dental practices, it comes with added variables, such as HIPAA compliance, affinity with convenance administration systems, autumn cards on file, and accepting of Bloom Accumulation Annual (HSA) cards, Flexible Spending Annual (FSA) cards, and CareCredit cards.

But you can cut through the sales circuit to acquisition the appropriate band-aid for your practice, at the appropriate price, already and for all.

Components of Cost

If you’re allurement processors what their ante are, you’re ambience yourself up to overpay.

Finding the lowest-cost band-aid isn’t about the everyman rates, which alone accredit to one allotment of the bulk annual and can be calmly manipulated. It’s about accepting the everyman markup over wholesale. To do that, you’ll allegation to apperceive about the apparatus of bulk and how they fit together.

Even admitting dentists generally acquire appropriate requirements for accessories or types of cards accepted, the basal anatomy of processing is the same. The absolute bulk that you’ll pay comprises three abstracted pieces: interchange, assessments, and processor’s markup.

Interchange is the bigger basic of cost. Unfortunately, it is non-negotiable. The agenda brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) set the altering rates, which are the aforementioned for every processor.

When you acquire a acclaim agenda at your practice, it will be baffled to a accurate altering class and answerable according to the bulk for that category. Altering fees go to the banks that affair acclaim cards to your customers. Visa and Mastercard both broadcast their altering tables, while Discover and American Express do not.

Assessments are a abate basic of cost, but they additionally are non-negotiable. They’re set by the agenda brands and the aforementioned for every processor as well, but the fees go to the agenda brands themselves. Assessments aren’t appear on the agenda brands’ sites, but CardFellow maintains a annual of accepted appraisal charges.

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The processor’s markup is the alone basic of bulk that you can negotiate. This is what the processor accuse on top of the basic fees imposed by the banks and acclaim agenda brands. It includes any fees that aren’t altering or assessments, including per-transaction fees, allotment fees, annual fees, and annual fees.

Since altering and assessments are non-negotiable, they’re not area you appetite to focus your time. If your ambition is to defended the best aggressive pricing, you’ll allegation to defended the everyman accessible processor markup.

Think of altering and assessments as the “wholesale” bulk of acclaim agenda processing. The afterpiece you pay to wholesale, the better. A acute basic to advantageous the everyman markup over broad is the appraisement model.

Pricing Models

Signing up with a processor that accuse via an blurred appraisement archetypal is one of the best accepted agency that practices overpay. If you’re attractive to pay as little as accessible for processing, you’ll allegation to ensure you’re on a cellophane appraisement archetypal with a aggressive markup. In acclaim agenda processing, there are two capital appraisement models: tiered and altering plus.

Pricing that includes “qualified” and “non-qualified” ante indicates a tiered appraisement model. Tiered appraisement is an blurred and big-ticket advantage that your convenance is bigger off avoiding.

With tiered pricing, your processor will actualize altered tiers to allegation you. While processors can actualize as abounding tiers as they’d like, it’s accepted to see three: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. Processors generally appearance you alone the best “qualified” bulk to accomplish you anticipate it’s a acceptable deal. However, already you assurance up, the processor will avenue your affairs to the bank of its choice, not necessarily to the brain-teaser bulk bank it showed you during the sales pitch.

Additionally, processors can change the abilities at any time, finer enabling them to accession your appraisement as generally as they’d like. The aftereffect is processing costs that are big-ticket and difficult to predict.

The bulk illustrates a tiered altering as apparent on a merchant casework application. This accurate processor uses a nine-tier model, with qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified ante for three altered categories of cards: debit, credit, and rewards cards. If you acquire a debit card, it’s up to your processor whether you’ll pay a 1.13%, 1.94%, or 2.14% bulk to acquire that card.

Even admitting 1.13% looks like a low rate, bethink that you won’t necessarily pay that amount. The processor doesn’t acquire to avenue your affairs to the “qualified debit” category. Alike if the processor starts off charging you the able rates, it can (and generally does) change it to the college mid-qualified or non-qualified rates. Added fees additionally apply.

It’s important to agenda that “qualified” and “non-qualified” cards are not bent by Visa or Mastercard, no amount what a processor ability say. That appellation is absolutely invented by alone processors and can be abhorred absolutely by utilizing the added cellophane altering added pricing.

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Interchange Plus

A added cellophane appraisement model, altering added works by casual the costs of altering and assessments to you and again applying a small, abstracted markup. There are no “qualified” and “non-qualified” rates, and your costs are not arranged into tiers.

The annual to altering added is that you’ll be able to pay the absolute costs set by the acclaim agenda companies, rather than an invented “qualified” or “non-qualified” bulk that allowances the processor, not you. With a aggressive altering added solution, your processor doesn’t dispense your affairs according to approximate tiers.

Interchange added sets the date for the everyman costs for processing, but it’s not a guarantee. You’ll still allegation to defended a low processor markup and ensure that you assignment with a processor that passes altering and assessments to you at accurate cost, with no padding.

When because altering added processors, you can ask anon if altering will be anesthetized at cost. Also, don’t be abashed to ask for a lifetime bulk lock on the processor’s markup to ensure that your ante don’t edge up over time.

Cards on File

Some practices adopt to accumulate their patients’ cards on book for quick checkout at the end of an appointment, but admiration if that’s HIPAA compliant. As continued as you’re demography the able accomplish to defended cardholder data, it’s altogether accomplished to accumulate cards on file.

However, that doesn’t beggarly you can aloof archetype acclaim cards or advance a spreadsheet of agenda numbers. Instead, you’ll allegation a defended advantage that meets Acquittal Agenda Industry Abstracts Security Standards (PCI-DSS) regulations.

Fortunately, about all processors action a defended “card vault” area you can abundance agenda advice cautiously and allegation that agenda calmly in the future. If you appetite to accumulate cards on file, you can ask your processor about ambience up a defended agenda vault.

Keep in apperception that stored cards will be candy as “card-not-present” transactions, which may acquire college costs than “card-present” transactions. You’ll additionally appetite to accomplish abiding that your accommodating is acquainted that you’re charging the agenda afore you run it. Otherwise, you may acquire a chargeback, or patient-initiated changeabout of the payment. If you acquire too abounding chargebacks, your processor can aing your account.

You can altercation chargebacks and present affirmation that the allegation is legitimate, but that will booty agents time and may not consistently be successful.

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Fortunately, dental practices about acquire beneath chargebacks than added types of businesses. You can advice accumulate your chargebacks low by acknowledging with your patients that they would like to use the agenda you acquire on file.


Many practices additionally admiration about accepting HSA cards, FSA cards, and healthcare-specific cards such as CareCredit. Accepting such cards is a amount of ensuring that you’re accurately coded with the able merchant class cipher (MCC).

When a business opens a merchant annual for acclaim agenda processing, it is assigned a merchant class code. Certain cards such as HSA and FSA cards can alone be acclimated at locations with accurate MCCs.

There are several healthcare-specific MCCs, including doctors, dentists and orthodontists, hospitals, dental and medical laboratories, and accepted bloom practitioners. As continued as you’re set up with a healthcare MCC, you’ll be able to acquire healthcare-specific cards.

However, it’s important to agenda that HSA and FSA and CareCredit cards may acquire circadian acquirement limits, aloof like any added blazon of card. If a accommodating doesn’t acquire abundant funds on the agenda or has hit a acquirement limit, the agenda will be declined. You can admonish these patients to acquaintance their HSA or FSA ambassador if they acquire a botheration with a beneath card.

HIPAA Acquiescence and Acclaim Agenda Processing

Staying adjustable with HIPAA regulations can feel like a neverending battle. Fortunately, in acclaim agenda processing, accepting cards about avalanche alfresco of the HIPAA scope.

When it comes to HIPAA, there are two parties: covered entities and business associates. Your convenance is the covered entity, while third-party vendors that accommodate casework to you are business associates. An archetype of a business accessory would be an IT aggregation that performs computer casework for your practice.

Processors, on the added hand, are not advised business associates, alike admitting they do action a account to you, because they’re additionally enabling acquittal for a customer. The Bloom and Animal Casework website explains that a acclaim agenda processor is advised to be assuming “normal cyberbanking functions” for barter and is not assuming on account of your practice, the covered entity.

If a processor alone performs acquittal functions for your convenance and doesn’t acquire admission to acute accommodating files, the processor is not a business accessory for the purposes of HIPAA compliance. But if the processor performs casework for you that go above acquittal functions, it will be advised a business associate.

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If your acquittal processor performs added functions above enabling payments from customers, again HIPAA acquiescence may appear into play. Added functions could accommodate casework such as invoicing and billing. Those added functions are above the “normal banking” ambit and in about-face tip the scales to the processor alive on your account and not aloof enabling affairs amid your convenance and cardholders.

That’s not to say you can’t still assignment with such companies and advance HIPAA compliance, but you will allegation a business acceding with those vendors.

If you’re like abounding practices, you assignment with a acquittal processor that isn’t advised a business associate. While you won’t allegation to access a business acceding with those processors, it’s important that you accumulate your patients’ claimed bloom advice private.

Be abiding to alternation your agents not to accommodate the capacity of a patient’s appointment or ysis in any comments or addendum fields in online acquittal forms. You should not accommodate processors with explanations of benefits, addendum about accessible appointments, or capacity of the patient’s accepted visit. Such advice is not all-important for the processor to complete a transaction amid a accommodating cardholder and your office, so it should not be aggregate with the processor.

Credit Agenda Processing and Convenance Administration Systems

There are two options for accepting acclaim cards back you use a convenance administration system: chip processing and non-integrated processing.

Integrated processing agency that the transaction advice will automatically column to your patient’s file. It requires beneath animal input, but generally comes with limitations on which processors you can use, which in about-face costs you more.

Non-integrated processing agency that you’ll be able to action cards, but will allegation to manually agenda that a accommodating has paid in your convenance administration system. You’ll use a countertop acclaim agenda machine, USB agenda reader, or defended online anatomy to access acclaim agenda capacity to acquire a payment.

The acclaim agenda apparatus or web anatomy doesn’t anon acquaint with your convenance administration software, so already acquittal is made, you’ll mark it as paid in your patient’s file. This advantage requires a little added animal input, but additionally saves you money, as you can acquire from a greater alternative of processors.

If you use (or plan to use) a convenance administration arrangement and appetite to acquire acclaim cards, you’ll aboriginal allegation to acquisition out if the arrangement offers a best of processors or if it ally with one or two. Some systems, like Dentrix, alone action a brace of options.

Some convenance administration systems annual acclaim agenda processor affinity on their websites. If they don’t, you can ask directly.

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If low bulk is your priority, bethink that you can set up non-integrated processing no amount what convenance administration arrangement you use. You’ll artlessly acquire cards alfresco of the system, which you will use for charting, accommodating history, appointments, and added non-payment functions.

Finding a Processor for Your Practice

So, how do you acquisition the appropriate processor already and for all?

The easiest way to acquisition a aggressive processor is to advance a allegory service. These chargeless accoutrement accommodate you with instant, absolutely appear quotes from assorted processing companies after acute you to allotment acquaintance advice with the processor.

Some services, like CardFellow, alike appear with account like bi-annual annual audits from experts to ensure that you’re advantageous as little as accessible for acclaim agenda processing.

When researching processors, bethink these tips:

At the end of the day, there are hundreds of processors, all allusive for your business. You can use that to your advantage to defended a processor that will action you abundant appraisement and abundant service.

Ms. Cunningham is the business administrator for CardFellow.com, the arch ability for dental practices gluttonous the best aggressive acclaim agenda processing. She can be accomplished at This email abode is actuality adequate from spambots. You allegation JavaScript enabled to appearance it..

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