Clearent Intelligent Processing

Everything we do starts with extraordinary service.

Our mission is simple: Take care of our sales partners and their local merchants with integrity, and we all thrive. We put customers first, leading to outstanding loyalty and exceptional rewards.

Payment Processing – Restaurant owners across the country put their trust in us to help them succeed and grow. We provide innovative and secure credit card processing solutions with 24-hour customer service, fair and up-front pricing, and data security that continues to set the industry standard Mobile Payments- Your restaurant thrives on quick turn-around times. Keep the line moving with the convenience that Integrity’s mobile payment processing provides. We offer reliable security, easy-to-install hardware and downloadable apps.
POS – Efficiency and simplicity in point-of-sales systems is vital for your success. That’s why we offer a full suite of fast casual restaurant POS software and hardware that allows you to more effectively manage your restaurant.
Managed Network Services – You have a restaurant to operate—you don’t have time to deal with a network failure, causing lost business and productivity.. We can help you connect and manage all of your devices and keep credit card acceptance processing over the internet with the added benefit of one-call customer support.
24/7 Customer Service – Clearent provides award-winning customer service, with a knowledgeable, responsive team. Based in the U.S., we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Accountable and responsible – We do everything in house, from boarding through settlement.
  • Always available – Real people. Talk with our experienced team in our office, not a call center.
  • Innovative – Adding new technologies and solutions: point of sale integrations, gateways, mobile payment solutions, online reporting, marketing analytics and more.
  • Solid and reliable – Partnered with Central Bank of St. Louis, MO.
Justin Smith
Account Executive

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Are Credit Card Processing Fees Negotiable?

Some credit card processing fees are negotiable, and some aren’t. So, please put the spreadsheet aside for a moment and read this article before you call another processor to ask the fateful question, “What’s your rate?” Before you can negotiate credit card processing fees, you have to know which fees are flexible. Credit card processing is like any other industry in that there are fixed costs and markups. Fixed costs are those that a processor can’t change, and markups are open to discussion. Understanding the components of credit card processing cost is the first step toward negotiating competitive fees. The second step, as we will explain in a moment, is to not negotiate fees before negotiating pricing. It may sound like the same thing, but there is an important difference. Components of Credit Card Processing Cost The three components of credit card processing cost are interchange fees, assessments and markups. Interchange Fees (Not Negotiable) Interchange fees remain the same no matter which credit card processor you choose, and no processor can offer you lower interchange rates than another. Interchange fees are charged by the banks that issue credit cards, and only the stakeholders of Visa, MasterCard and Discover (card-issuing banks) can update interchange. Assessments (Not Negotiable): Visa, MasterCard and Discover charge various assessment fees when businesses accept one of their credit or debit cards. Like interchange, a business will pay the exact same assessment charges regardless of which credit card processor it uses. All processors pay the exact same assessment fees to Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Markups (Negotiable): The only area of credit card processing expense that is negotiable... read more

Credit Card Transaction Fees

Credit card transactions fees may only be pennies on the dollar, but costs can really add up. More often than not, credit card transaction fees contribute more to cost than credit card processing rates. A common and costly mistake when shopping for credit card processing services is to focus on a processor’s rate while paying little attention to transaction fees. The financial impact of this mistake is especially damaging for businesses with a low average sale amount. What’s the difference between a transaction fee and a processing rate? Each time a business processes a credit card transaction it pays two types of fees. The first is a single percentage that is based on the volume of a transaction, called the rate or discount rate, and the second is a flat fee generally referred to as a transaction fee. The trouble with transaction fees starts with a misunderstanding of the term itself. The term transaction fee generally refers to any flat fee charged when a business’s credit card machine or software gives or gets information to or from a processor. Authorization fees, return fees, AVS fees and gateway fees are just a few examples of the various transaction fees that processors charge. And, unlike a processor’s discount rate, more than one transaction fee may apply to an individual credit card transaction. What people typically think of as a processor’s transaction fee is actually its authorization fee. Authorization Costs Vs. Discount Rate Cost The authorization fee is charged each time a business authorizes a credit card transaction, and it often contributes more to cost than the discount rate. This is especially... read more

Qualified, Mid Qualified & Non Qualified Credit Card Processing Rates

If your business is paying qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified charges to process credit cards, it’s paying too much. The key to lowering your business’s credit card processing expense is not avoiding non-qualified fees. The key is completely eliminating a processor’s qualification altogether. Who Determines Rate Qualification Qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified rates are set and manipulated entirely by credit card processors through something called tiered pricing. Visa and MasterCard have absolutely no influence in determining how various processors qualify transactions under tiered pricing. In reality, there are far more than just three (qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified) credit card processing rates. In fact, there are hundreds of different rates between Visa and MasterCard called interchange fees. Interchange fees are the basis for all credit card processing charges, and they remain exactly the same regardless of which processor a business uses. A processor uses tiered pricing to route hundreds of interchange fees to its own qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified rates. A couple important points to keep in mind about tiered pricing and rate qualification are: Individual processors control how interchange fees are qualified under a tiered pricing structure. This leads to something called inconsistent buckets, which makes comparing rates from different processors virtually impossible. For example, one processor may consider a Visa reward interchange fee as qualified, while another considers the same interchange fee non-qualified. Processors can change how interchange fees are qualified at any time without notice. This allows processors to lower a business’s qualified rate while still increasing the business’s gross processing fees. To do so, the processor simply routes more interchange fees to the business’s mid and non-qualified rates.... read more

How Tips Paid by Credit Card Could Affect Your Restaurant

Now that credit and debit cards have become a popular way to pay for meals, customers often add tips for servers when they sign their credit card receipt. However, this common practice could have implications for your bottom line. Tips over a certain percentage of the bill can trigger flags for fraud, resulting in card issuer-initiated chargebacks, or can cause your transaction to be downgraded to a more expensive interchange category. Tip tolerance When credit and debit cards are swiped in a restaurant, the amount authorized includes a 20% “tip tolerance.” This means that when you swipe a customer’s card, it will be approved if the customer has funds available for the total cost of their bill plus 20%. For example, if a customer’s bill is $100, the actual authorization amount will be $120. This is done to ensure that there are enough funds available for the possibility of a customer leaving a 20% tip. In some cases, customers tip more than 20%. If they do, the transaction may set off a warning (“flag”) to the issuer to check for fraud. The issuer could decide to initiate a chargeback, requiring information from your business about the transaction to determine the validity. Issuers initiating chargebacks for small checks or for tips close to 20% isn’t very common, but can happen. Tips that are much larger than 20% are more likely to be subject to a card issuer chargeback. Visa provides a best practices guide for restaurant staff to help ensure smooth card acceptance. Update 12/7/2015: MasterCard has announced that starting in mid-2016, it will be eliminating tip tolerance for several... read more

The Truth Behind “We’ll Give You $500 if We Can’t Beat Your Rates” Offers

If you accept credit cards at your business and have spent any time researching processors, you’ve probably come across sales gimmicks offering cash if the processor can’t beat your current rates. You know the one: “If we can’t lower your rates, we’ll give you $500 and a free unicorn!” Okay, the offer doesn’t usually include a unicorn, but it might as well for all the good it does you if you’re trying to secure competitive pricing. Credit card processors that offer cash if they can’t “beat” or match your current processing rates will use a variety of tactics to get your business, and manipulate pricing so that they rarely have to pay out the cash. Even worse, if you’re not careful, you could end up with more expensive rates than the ones you already had. The offer What happens is that a processor promises that if they can’t match or lower your rates, they’ll give you money, usually $500. They’ll lure you in with the reassurance that you don’t have to accept their quote, and remind you that in the worst case scenario, you’ll end up $500 richer. What they don’t tell you is that they use methods to make the deal worthwhile for them, not for you, and can even “lower your rates” without saving you any money on processing.  The true worst case scenario is that you don’t lower your actual costs at all, or secure lower rates temporarily only to see your costs skyrocket when your new processor changes your pricing. It’s a tactic to catch your attention with the goal of converting you to a... read more

Early Termination Fees: Canceling Your Merchant Processing Agreement

At some point in business ownership, you’ll probably find yourself needing to cancel your merchant account for credit card processing. When you do, will you be stuck with cancellation fees? Can you be personally held responsible for ongoing costs, like chargebacks that occur after cancellation? The biggest concern most small businesses have with Merchant Processing Contracts (MPCs) is how to avoid the industry-standard cancellation fee, also known as an early termination fee.  Remember, the lawyers drafting these agreements on behalf of credit card processing companies are smart, and typically you are not the party with leverage when first entering this payment space.  However, your MPC itself may help guide you to successfully terminating without the burden and expense of an early termination fee. First Things First: Personal Guaranty If you are considering terminating your merchant processing contract there is one important thing you should know immediately: nearly every MPC I have reviewed includes a “personal guaranty.” Thus, the effects (whether it be penalties, fees, or damages for a breach of the agreement) can be brought against you individually and not just your company. With a personal guaranty, even if you are closing your shop, going out of business, or selling your assets as part of an assets purchase agreement, the terms of the MPC may still follow you, the individual business owner. Where to Look for a Personal Guaranty Typically, there will be a separate section indicating that you are signing personally and on behalf of the Company. It may be titled “Individual Guarantor(s)” or “Individual Guaranty”. You should also look above or below the actual signature block of... read more

5 Reasons to Ask for OptBlue Pricing if You Take American Express

Like many businesses, you probably think of American Express as the expensive credit card to accept. That’s changing thanks to American Express’s new pricing, called OptBlue. If you already take American Express cards or are considering accepting them at your business, you’ll want to make sure your processor charges you with OptBlue. Here’s why: It’s cheaper Well, probably. The new OptBlue pricing is a cost plus model, so if you’re not on a tiered pricing model and if have a competitive processor markup, you’ll likely save money. But be careful – those two factors can be big ifs.™ It’s more transparent Cost plus pricing models are more transparent because you’ll see the actual cost to process American Express cards. It won’t be hidden from you, unless your processor hides it. If they do, switch processors! A competitive processor will always show you what you’re paying. Faster access to funds OptBlue aims to fix another problem that businesses have previously had with American Express, namely that funds aren’t deposited as quickly as they are with other cards. On American Express’s OptBlue site, they state that payments will arrive for businesses in the same timeframes as other card types. That’s great news for businesses, when quick access to funds from credit card sales can make all the difference. The final rate you’ll pay to take an American Express card is not set by American Express Under the previous AMEX pricing (called OnePoint) the final rate to accept American Express cards was directly set by American Express, and your processor had no control over it. Now, your processors markup will dictate your... read more

3 Ways to Tell if You’re Paying Too Much for Credit Card Processing

Credit card processing is a confusing and frustrating part of business. Have you ever looked at your billing statement and thought you’re paying too much for credit card processing but couldn’t be sure? Or maybe a pushy sales person stops by and promises to save you tons of money, and you’re wondering if you’re really overpaying. Here are 3 quick ways to determine if you’re paying too much and how to lower your costs to take credit cards. You have non-qualified rates Check your statements. Do you see the word “non-qualified” or any variation? (NQUAL, nonqual, etc.) If so, you’re paying too much for credit card processing. Huge red flag. 1a. Did you search for a processor based on “rates” and then sign up with the lowest, with a rate of 1.5% or less? You’re probably overpaying. Yellow flag. Non-qualified rates are a problem because of what’s called tiered or “bundled” pricing. With that pricing model, you get opaque, expensive pricing because your processor gets to arbitrarily decide which of your transactions will cost you more. Solution: Switching to a credit card processor that offers competitive interchange plus pricing is the first step to lowering your processing costs if you’re on a tiered model. You’re using Square or PayPal Is your average transaction more than $10 and you process more than $2,000/month but you use Square or PayPal? You’re probably paying too much and can lower your processing costs. Marketing has made flat rate processors seem appealing, but name recognition isn’t always a good indicator of competitive costs. (I’m not giving this one a warning color because it’s not... read more

Social Media Changes Every Restaurant Owner Should Know

Over the last few years, social media has become one of the most important marketing tools for restaurants. Last year, a reported 90 percent of all restaurants in the United States used social media to reach new customers and increase customer loyalty. If you are currently using social media as part of your restaurant marketing strategy, or if you are interested in deploying social media marketing for your restaurant, there are a few changes to social media networks Yelp and Facebook you should know about. We’ve broken these changes down by social network so you can see how leveraging each channel can boost your business. Yelp! Yelp! is an online review platform where customers can leave both positive and negative reviews about all types of businesses. While Yelp’s collection of reviews can benefit a restaurant, it can also create problems for restaurants as many people use Yelp to complain, but don’t turn to Yelp to leave a review when they have a positive experience. Yelp has added a video feature allowing patrons to leave video reviews of restaurants. The feature can benefit restaurants that take pride in their ambiance and atmosphere, as a video can show far more than a photo ever could. On the other hand, the feature also allows hotheaded patrons to vocalize their disappointment when the food or service is not just right. There is no way for a business owner to moderate which reviews show up on Yelp, but it’s important that you take the time to respond to reviews and encourage happy patrons to also leave reviews on Yelp. The new video feature is... read more

InStore POS

  Clearent is proud to introduce the InStorePOS. InStore is an all-in-one system with custom hardware designed specifically for POS, software that will grow with your business, and a merchant account that offers some of the best rates in the business. A sleek point of sale you don’t have to hide, InStore replaces your cash register, payment terminal, receipt printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner with an all-in-one solution. Optional accessories, such as a handheld barcode scanner and a label printer, integrate seamlessly with the InStorePOS. Your InStore POS arrives pre-loaded with everything you need to accept payments and run your business more efficiently. Key features include- Create and view your menu of items. Change it anytime. Keep a list of your customers and their previous orders so that you can personalize their experience. Full service restaurants can assign tables to servers and manage table ordering, printing, and paying. Retailers can track inventory, manage purchase orders, and view costs and quantities. Run key reports anytime, anywhere. Contact Justin Smith at 214-546-0983 for a consult!... read more

Why Mobile Payments Matter to EMV Compliance

Many merchants have been hesitant about mobile payments, but with the EMV compliance mandate at our doorstep in the U.S., the time for business owners to put out the “open” sign for mobile payments is now. EMV compliance, the upgrading of point-of-sale systems so they can process chip- and pin-based cards,  is not mandated for merchants, but those who do not comply will assume liability for fraudulent purchases. The liability shift makes adopting the standards critical for some businesses. For example, in the hospitality industry, the shift has already induced many restaurants to review their POS systems, including in-store hardware and software. At the same time, many are resistant, objecting to these costly POS upgrade investments, and are looking for something stronger than EMV to address security and potential fraud issues. Mobile payments are not only less costly to deploy, but they are also poised for explosive growth in the U.S. Experts predict U.S. mobile payments will grow to $142 billion by 2019 with both national brands and local merchants. According to a 2015 MasterCard study, “The Emotion of Safety and Security Survey,” conducted by Braun Research, 56 percent of Americans use mobile digital payments via app or website or plan to try them soon. In addition, mobile payment apps up-level convenience for both businesses and users, as the payment process is streamlined. Mobile payments can also deter fraud in ways EMV can’t. Mobile payment offerings are secure and PCI-compliant, meeting all security requirements enforced upon credit and debit cards. As a result, Americans are increasingly trusting mobile payments in a way not seen in the past. According to The... read more

Payment Breaches to Continue Despite US EMV Liability Shift

The infamous mega-breaches of 2014 and 2015 — Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and Hilton to name a few — shone a light on both the vulnerability and value of payment data leading up to the official EMV liability shift date of Oct. 1, 2015. With a total of 5,063,044 financial, credit and banking records exposed just last year, the deadline served as further incentive for U.S. merchants to adopt the technology in an effort to increase card security and reduce counterfeit fraud.  Now, with the adoption of EMV technology in full swing, two questions remain top of mind for payment sector executives, retailers and customers alike — will the transition to chip and PIN make credit cards and transactions more secure from attacks? What impact will this change have on other payment methods?  While the shift will likely improve the overall security of transactions in the long-term, Experian believes that it is not a silver bullet against attacks and predicts that the payment industry will continue to face breaches despite the migration. Many executives agree, according to a recent Ponemon Institute study, only half of executives in the payment sector believe chip and PIN will decrease the risk of a breach. In fact, 64 percent believe that it is more challenging to secure payment card information than any other identifiable information.  This trend is driven by the fact that payment data remains one of the most valuable types of information to cyber criminals and they will continue to look for new ways to steal and use it for fraud. While EMV will make it more difficult for criminals to use the same point-of-sale malware that’s been... read more

Merchant Fraud Alert

Recently we have prevented a type of fraud for a few of our customers and we want to make you aware of the scam so you can be alert to any activity that matches this profile. In the two cases we came across, our risk department was able to prevent the merchants from losing money and merchandise, but it’s always best if you are able to catch a scam before you make a charge. The scam goes like this: a customer will come into your place of business or call you and they will want to make a very large purchase. They will try to get you to force through the transaction on your terminal or POS using a phony “pre-authorization” code. The “customer” may even hand you their cell phone and say they have their bank on the phone.  The person on the other end of the phone is part of the scam and will give you a phony authorization code to enter into your terminal.   Do not force through a transaction of this size! If you have questions about an authorization code, call voice authorization or call Clearent and ask to speak to the Risk Department.  If you think you may have experienced this fraud, please call us as soon as possible to see if we can stop the transaction and help you recoup your merchandise and money. If the authorization code entered during this process is invalid the issuing bank can chargeback the transaction and debit IPS for the sale.  At this point you would be out the money and the product.  Do not think “well the sale went... read more

Some Frightening Facts about Data Breach

I just received a note from LinkedIn explaining why I was recently required to change my password. It was because of a data breach that occurred four years ago. Canadian consumers are more aware than ever of their exposure to data breach and the potential risk that accompanies illegal access to their personal information and financial resources.  94% of consumers surveyed are concerned about data breach 75% or retailers surveyed feel they are not doing enough to prevent infiltrations Brunswick Group, Main Street vs. Wall Street – who is to blame for data breaches? The companies and brands that we all do business with are at substantial risk to data breach because of the multiple points of cyber infiltration available to hackers (internet enabled POS, mobile payments, corporate and ecommerce web sites) and the linkage of personally identifiable information with payment information. Data breaches are not rare occurrences. They occur every day – typically impacting less than 200 individual records. But occasionally major breaches occur, involving millions of customer records and their associated personal information. In financial services and retail, customers are the weakest point and greatest risk for hacking. Did you know that 90% of Android and 35% of IOS retail Apps have already been successfully hacked? Mobile payments through smart devices that have been infected expose retail systems to Malware infiltration. Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report confirms this with reporting of the top 4 classifications of data breach incidents in 2015: Data Breach Incident                     Finance                Retail Web App Attacks                            82%                      26% POS Intrusions                                 n/a                        64% Card Skimmers                                9%                         3% Insider Misuse                                 4%                         2% Protect Yourself... read more


WHO MAKES ALL THE MONEY ON A CREDIT/DEBIT CARD TRANSACTION? There are three parties involved in every credit/debit card transaction: the processor (Integrity Payments), the Issuing Bank (whoever provided the credit/debit card – Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, XYZ Credit Union, etc), and the Association (Visa, MasterCard, etc). The interchange fees go to the issuing bank, the access and association fees go to the Associations, and the processor gets the small percentage left over. WHO PAYS THE REWARDS ON THE CREDIT CARDS? Rewards cards have a higher interchange fee than a standard consumer credit card. These fees are paid to the Issuing Bank by the merchant. There isn’t much a business owner can do to mitigate this except to build it in as part of the price to do business. WHY DO MY RATES INCREASE? Just like with any business, acquiring costs may fluctuate twice a year. The Associations look at interchange rates annually in April and October. There are many factors included in a rate, including the risk to process that card, does it offer a rewards program, the chargeback liability, payment default percentage, etc. When this happens, some processing companies take this as an opportunity to increase “their fees” as well. At Peel Payments, our clients are the most important asset, we will not add a marked up percentage when passing thru an increase imposed by the Association or Issuing Bank. You can take that to the bank! HOW WILL THE EVOLUTION OF EMV CARDS IMPACT MY BUSINESS? On October 1, 2015, merchants processing face-to-face transactions need to have the ability to process EMV transactions on... read more