Have you considered a third party convenience fee?
When it comes to accepting credit card payments, there are two options regarding the fees associated with processing credit card payments. One is to absorb the fees as a cost of doing business and the other is to charge a convenience fee for credit card payments.
In the first case, your utility simply absorbs the cost and your customer only pays the full amount of the bill. In the second case, your customer pays a convenience fee, over and above the amount of the bill, and your utility pays the credit card fees from the convenience fee collected.
Some credit cards, such as reward cards and business cards, incur larger fees than others. Many utilities don’t want to incur the cost of credit card fees and they feel uncertain about charging a convenience fee, not knowing if the convenience fee will cover all the costs associated with accepting credit cards.
Third party convenience fees
A third option is third party convenience fees. If a third party provides your online bill pay or IVR service, such as we do with our WebPay and PhonePay, the third party processor can charge the fee and your utility still receives the entire amount of your customer’s bill. In this case, it is up to the third party to pay the associated fees from the amount they charge.
Additionally, convenience fees are not allowed by law in some states. If your utility is located in one of these states and you want to avoid the costs associated with taking credit card payments, third party convenience fees are the solution for you.
In office payments
Obviously, third party convenience fees can’t work for in-office payments because no third party is involved.
But, is there a way to charge a convenience fee for in-office payments?
One solution employed by some utilities is to install a payment kiosk in the lobby and direct customers who wish to pay by credit card to the kiosk. This need not be an expensive kiosk – it can be as simple as a retired desktop computer or a tablet device mounted in a frame so it can’t be stolen. The kiosk is configured to access only your online bill pay site and customers use this to pay by credit card in your office.
A side benefit of your customers using a kiosk in your office is they become familiar with your online bill pay site and may make future credit card payments from home.
Are you considering taking credit cards?
If your utility is considering accepting credit cards and you need assistance determining how best to go about it, give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at email@example.com to learn how a business review can help.