How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Earn Cash Back When You Shop Online

Cashback shopping is a growing Internet shopping experience, you not only get all the online discounts, promotional giveaways, free trials & special offers that the company you are buying from normally offer, but you also earn money back, for things that you would be buying anyway!

Cashback websites pay the money earned to members via various payment options (BACS, PayPal or cheque) within a stated time period and this is in cash, not points, so the member can use the money to buy anything they like, not just what a particular retailer wants to offer them, such as you would get with a Nectar Card or Clubcard, or a site that offers you points towards items in their “gift catalogue”.

Cashback shopping in the UK is relatively new, but it is growing, with more sites appearing every week. As 1 in every 10 retail purchases in the UK is now made over the internet (according to figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group), there are certainly good sums of cashback available to claim by clued up consumers.

Cashback sites have clickable links to online retailers that are provided by the retailers through companies called affiliate networks. Many cashback sites have over 1000 links, meaning there’s a great choice of retailers, in many different categories, for you to get cashback from. Many of the well known high street brands are available on cashback websites.

Merchants advertise their products on websites & when a surfer clicks on the ad & then buys the product or service, the retailer pays a fee (commission) to the website owner. You will see these ads all over most of the websites you browse everyday. Cashback Shopping sites act as an interface in between retailers and online shoppers, offering to share that payment with their members. Once an online shopper clicks on the links of the retailers listed on these portals he is redirected to the retailer’s website as normal and upon buying the product, gets the cashback percentage, or flat rate payment promised by the portal for that particular retailer.

You register with your chosen cashback site; the registration allows the website to know which member made which purchase & match the cashback paid from the retailer (via the affiliate network) to their account. You will need to be logged in to the cashback site & choose a retailer you want to buy from. The cashback offer for the retailer will be displayed against the link & will generally be a percentage of your purchase total, (e.g. 5%) or a set amount, (e.g. £30) for a contract mobile phone, or for opening a bank account.

When you click the link to a retailer, you are taken to their site and you make your purchase in the normal way. From the moment you click, the affiliate network will be tracking the transaction using (cookies stored on your PC), which identifies that you clicked on a link from a particular website (i.e. the cashback site). Commissions paid to other websites such as MSN, Yahoo etc. are tracked in exactly the same way, so don’t be wary of the tracking cookie.

Usually within a day or two, the affiliate network reports the transaction back to the cashback site and states how much commission is due to be paid to them. The cash back site then credits your account with a share of this commission (see the site for exactly how much – some sites pay around 50% of the commission earnt, whereas others pay 100% of the commission, but charge an administration fee).

The money becomes payable to you when the commission has been received by the cashback site from the retailer via the affiliate network, but only when you have reached the minimum payout level for the cashback site (again, this varies from site to site). Once both these things happen you can claim your money from the cashback site.

Typically your cash-back from purchases will become confirmed/payable about 2-3 months after the transaction. This is to allow for return of goods etc so that retailers don’t get stung. Uncleared payments usually show as “pending”.

The prices you get via cashback site links are the same prices that everyone else gets. The only difference is that you are getting money back on top & as well as this, you’re usually able to use retailers’ online discount codes in conjunction with cashback offers, making for even greater savings! Most sites will display lists of the special offers & codes that each retailer is offering, without you having to go hunting through the site.

Most of the UK cashback sites are free to join and even give you a sign-up bonus to get you started! They may also pay you an additional bonus if you get friends and family to join up, using a referral link that they give you. There are some sites that don’t do this, but they do claim to pay 100% of the commission they receive from the retailers!

The only restrictions are those the cashback sites set in terms of minimum payout levels, but with just one big-ish purchase (e.g. insurance policy or mobile phone contract) you may exceed this in one go.

Why else might you shop online, other than just for cash back? Well, the top reasons for shopping online include avoiding crowded stores, the availability of lower prices and the wide selection of goods and services available. Basically, you can sit at home, not get stressed by the crowds, still buy what you want, but get it cheaper and choose from a wider selection, not to mention if you use a cashback site, get some of your money back too!

Finally, there’s no limits on the amount of cashback you can earn with cashback sites and with 98% of retailers you can make repeat purchases and get cashback every time!

You can literally start saving money right now, in the next couple of minutes. It won’t cost you anything at all. And you just go on saving year after year. Just think how much money you are going to get back over the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years, just for using a cashback site to buy what you were going to buy anyway!!!

We would suggest that you register with at least one cashback site & then use a comparison site like Kelkoo or Price Runner to find the lowest price, or in the case of insurance confused.com, comparethmarket.com or moneysupermarket.com, but then return to the cashback site to click through to the retailer; that way, you are getting the best price & cashback too!:o)

Beware! As mentioned earlier, the cashback site relies on a tracking code (also sometimes known as a cookie) to record which site you came from & who is entitled to receive their cashback. If you initially visit a retailer through one site & then return to it through the cashback site, you may not get the cashback you expect, because the first cookie is the one used by the affiliate network.

Therefore, before using your cashback site, we recommend removing cookies from your browser, using the tools already built in to your browser, or by using an excellent free piece of software: CCleaner! This ensures that the “click” through the cashback site is the one registered by the affiliate network, not one from a comparison site, who would then get the money & not share it with you!!

The Benefits of Vegetarian Culinary Schools

Learning the Basics When you attend vegetarian culinary schools, you learn about the basics of cooking a vegetarian meal. You will learn about making the food look appealing. You learn how to prepare some of the fancier vegan foods. The schools operate in a kitchen and a classroom. You spend all your time learning how to become the best chef. You will learn about the different seasonings and spices as well as how to use them with different vegetables.

The vegetarian culinary schools only select so many people. You cannot just enter the culinary schools vegetarian classes if you have had no prior cooking experience in most cases. Most schools require some basic knowledge of cooking even if it is not strictly vegetarian style. The vegan chef school is a great way to take a step up in some of the fancier dinning establishments. It is possible to work in a high-class country club or even for a government catering organization.

Once you start the class, you will see how easy it is to make a vegetarian meal and make it so tasty that no one will care if it is a vegetarian meal. This is quite important if you want to be a chef. You have to learn how to garnish the food to make it look appealing. Color is another part of learning. Culinary schools, vegetarian schools included teach you how to garnish with color to entice the palate. You learn everything you need to make so many different foods.

Graduating from Vegan Chef School Once you complete your degree, you will be able to find work almost anywhere a chef is needed. Many clubs and restaurants look for chefs right out of school because they are fresh and have some skills that some of the older chefs may not have. Vegetarian chef schools will guide you on how to approach the establishments and what is expected of you as a resume. You will not submit a paper resume, but you will make a scrumptious meal as your test before being considered for a position.

When you attend vegetarian culinary schools [http://www.vegetarian-culinary-schools.com/vegetarian-culinary-schools.html], you will learn so much about cooking with different types of foods. You will learn how to make a vegetarian lasagna that no one will ever guess is just a vegan dish. You will take pride in your work and know just how to make the perfect dinner or even a breakfast for anyone that enjoys the delights of vegetarian foods and even those that do not, will be delighted.

Define Computer Hardware

It is quite well known that the working of the computer is pulled by hardware and software. One can define computer hardware as the electronic, magnetic, and electric devices that carry out the computing functions. Hardware is the physical components of the computer like microprocessor, hard disks, RAM, and motherboard. The peripheral devices such as monitor, mouse, keyboard, printer, and speakers can also be included in the list of hardware parts. The programs that run on the computers like Windows, C++, and Photoshop are the software parts of the computer. A good example for an easy understanding of hardware-software definition is music CDs. The actual compact disk is the hardware, while the songs and music in the CD are the software parts.

There is another way to define computer hardware. Hardware devices are the executors of the commands provided by software applications. For example, let us see what happens when you click the print button of the web browsing software. The software application provides a command to the processor, which is the central part of all computer hardware. Processor in turn checks for an attached printer. If the printer is ready, the software will get a positive response from the processor. Then the software application provides instruction to the printer via the processor to print the web page. In that sense, hardware parts are the foot soldiers and software applications are the commanders in the digital operation that takes place within a computer.

The main player of computer hardware is undoubtedly the microprocessor. It is the sun in the solar system of computer hardware devices. It is the central component and all other components work around it. It is an integrated chip on which a number of functions are incorporated. Two specifications determine its efficiency. One is its processing speed, which is measured in gigahertz. The other is its bit rate. Commonly available processors are 32 bit and 64 bit. The bit rate is a measure of the efficiency of a processor to carry out multiple operations at the same time.

One cannot define computer hardware without mentioning the two types of memory used in computers. One is permanent memory. It refers to the magnetic storage capacity of hard disk. It is measured in gigabytes. The second is RAM or random access memory. This memory is able to store data only when the computer is switched on. The memory will lose all the data when the computer is switched off.

Another important product that one should mention when one defines computer hardware is motherboard. It is the electric and electronic circuit board on which all the other components are inserted. There are several other kinds of products such as sound card, video card, network card, and modem that complete the hardware spectrum.