Merchant Bill of Rights

As a small business owner, you deserve transparency

Small business owners face more headwinds these days than ever before. One of those challenges shouldn’t be payment processing. Promoting transparent and fair credit, debit and prepaid card processing is in Heartland’s DNA. It’s why we first published The Merchant Bill of Rights back in 2006. We firmly believe these rights are self-evident and should be the industry standard.

A male barista smiles while standing behind the counter at a coffee shop.

Your rights as a merchant

Knowing your rights can help you better advocate for your business to potentially save on processing. You deserve to know how payment processing works, why it costs money, how to tell if what you’re paying is fair, and how to pick a good provider. Let’s walk through your Merchant Bill of Rights.

Female small business owner reviews a merchant statement while taking notes.
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1. The right to know the fee for every card transaction ― and who’s charging it

Fees shouldn’t be hidden. You have the right to fair and transparent credit, debit and prepaid card processing, no matter your rate structure. This includes a straightforward processing statement that clearly explains what you’re paying and why.

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2. The right to know the markup of Visa®, Mastercard®, Discover® and American Express® fee increases

Markups should be disclosed. You have the right to know what you’re paying in interchange fees — including when any changes — and when you’re paying markup on that interchange from your processor.

Woman uses her finger to sign for a purchase on a Heartland Retail point of sale system. The female shop clerk prepares to turn the POS back around after completing the sale.
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3. The right to know all Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express fee reductions

Passthrough should work both ways. You have the right to know about — and receive — fee reductions and grant incentive programs when offered by card brands. Fee reductions and incentive programs can significantly impact your bottom line — so your processor should pass along those savings.

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4. The right to know all transaction middlemen

No one wants to deal with middlemen — and you shouldn’t, either. You have the right to know all the players in a credit card transaction, since each party gets a cut. The fewer third parties involved in your services, the less you’ll likely pay.

A female plant shop owner sits at a laptop reviewing credit card processing statements.
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5. The right to know all surcharges and bill backs

Fees should deliver value. You have the right to know what additional processing charges are included in your bill and see them listed separately from the base rates you were quoted.

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6. The right to get the best rate structure for your business type

Rate structures vary. You have the right to know which pricing structure is the most cost-friendly to your business based on its processing habits.

A woman wearing a scarf and apron holds a handheld point of sale system while speaking to a male customer.
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7. The right to encrypted card numbers and secure transactions

Data security is crucial. You have the right to robust card data security and data encryption through state-of-the-art technology to prevent card data theft at your business.

A female small business owner holds her arm out to take a credit card from a customer's outstretched hand.
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8. The right to real-time fraud and transaction monitoring

Fraud monitoring reduces bad transactions. You have the right to regular, ongoing real-time detection and protection from payment fraud.

A Heartland point of sale and cash register sits on a small business’ counter.
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9. The right to reasonable equipment costs

Hardware and SAAS fees shouldn’t mask markup costs. You have the right to affordable equipment — whether buying, leasing or renting a POS. This includes reasonable terms that allow for monthly payments over a multi-year period.

Three customer service agents, two male and one female, sit in front of computers and take customer service calls using headsets.
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10. The right to real-time customer support

Support should be available when you need it. You have the right to live customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year because any disruption in service can cost you money — and customers.

A business owner and manager review their coffee shop’s printed credit card processing statement
Your guide to the ‘Merchant Bill of Rights’

Take a deep dive into the MBOR, payment processing, and why Heartland created a bill of rights for small businesses.

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The lifecycle of a credit card transaction

This beginner’s guide breaks down the credit card authorization process, including all the players and steps from swipe, dip or tap to funds hitting your bank account.

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Guide to fintech security for small businesses

Accepting payments means complying with established data security standards to protect cardholders — and your business.

We honor your rights

Every entrepreneur deserves the clear and straightforward presentation of credit card costs.