Choosing a Credit Card Processor

Compare Apples to Apples, The Fees’ and The Data!

Unless your restaurant is in the enviable position of being “cash payments” only, you will need to select a credit card processor. These companies should integrate seamlessly with your P.O.S. system and bank, automatically batching payments daily and depositing funds to your selected account.

As with credit card companies, payment processors are in the business of making money and fees and service vary wildly. Hidden charges and complicated statements are to be avoided, so it is wise to interview at least 3 processors to assess their integrity, fee increase policy (beyond the major credit card company fee increases), analyze a typical processing statement and obtain references of satisfied restaurant users.

NOTE: At the end of this document, I recommend a company resource that is revolutionizing the industry by providing both integrated value-added services and card processing. It is certainly worth your time to evaluate this company.  

Volume determines rate:
Accepting credit cards from your customers comes at a price, anywhere from 2 – 4%+ of the total restaurant charge. Generally, the higher your restaurant’s sales and greater the percentage of total credit card payments, the greater leverage you have in negotiating a lower fee percentage. 

Hidden Fees:   There are all kinds of industry terms and jargon…. Interchange fees, swipe fees, etc…that all increase your costs and complicate your monthly statement. If a card‘s mag stripe has been worn or compromised, your card reader cannot process the card unless you manually type in the card number and information… this all comes at an extra fee. 

Whichever processor you choose, ask for a complete breakdown of their fees and request a sample statement showing how each of these fees are presented in the statement.


American Express is in the enviable position of owning the “business-use” customer.  As an extremely high percentage of business expense accounts, dinners and entertainment spending are charged to the AMEX card, their processing fee is nearly double of Visa, Mastercard or Discover, etc.. 

Depending on your concept and location, you will need to decide if accepting the AMEX card is absolutely necessary for your operation. In my case, I was at a tourist area and I found that over 20 years of business, I had less than a dozen complaints that my restaurant did not accept AMEX. 

As a seasonal operation, I simply could not justify losing nearly 4% fees for the privilege of accepting AMEX.

Data Mining:  Every credit card swipe holds valuable data and customer information that can be a competitive advantage and useful marketing tool for your restaurant.  For this reason I highly recommend you explore how this progressive company UpServe can benefit your business.  There is no doubt that if they had been around when I was running my restaurants, they would be my choice. (see more info below).

UpServe’s Biggest Benefit is the valuable and actionable data they provide, viewable at the touch of a button from any device.  I had to collect this data by hand in notebooks!!  The data is so valuable, you are lucky this new technology is now available!

Data that is available to you to help you build your business: 

  • Feedback on customer spending habits 
  • Comparison of New versus Repeat Customers 
  • Historical sales data record that includes weather and/or other notable events  
  • Sales Growth Tracking  
  • Server Sales Performance 
  • Customer Database 
  • Social Media  
  • Return On Investment 
  • Online Review Reputation Management Tracking (Yelp, Trip Advisor) 
  • A Turn-Key Customer Loyalty program 24/7 Service

Schedule a free UpServe demo