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PCI Compliance Fees: A Fair Processing Charge Or A Junk Fee?

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Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl has been writing about merchant services, payment gateways, and international money transfer services since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate from the Ventura College of Law. After a long and enjoyable career of traveling around the world as an Air Force navigator, he’s comfortably settled down in the wine country town of Paso Robles in California’s scenic Central Coast region. He enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and numerous other outdoor pursuits.
Frank Kehl
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42 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Afshan Shahid

    My second complaint against Payment Sense is that they have been charging me GB 35 per month for PCI non-compliance fee. Isn’t it a rip off? Is there any cap on this? Worldpay used to charge me only 10 pounds for this negligence on my part. Is there any forum where I can lodge a complaint for reduction of this exorbitant PCI non-compliance fee?

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Afshan,

      I have not seen any complaint forums for PaymentSense, though you could leave a review on TrustPilot, but they do list the fee in their FAQ’s and they have their own internal complaint process that you can submit to, if you’d like.

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Afshan Shahid

        I am dealing with Payment sense. Recently they took out GB 174 from my account as DD without my information. It put me in an embarrassing position when my debit card was declined for insufficient funds for purchase of an air ticket. When I asked for explanation, they said they had “upgradd” me from Viewmylocal to Plus by PaymentSense. Honestly I never knew what was Viewmylocal programme and what this new upgraded plan is . Their contention that they had informed me about this change 10 months ago is not tenable.How they entered me in the original without my consent;upgrading me to Plus is similarly without my consent. Aren’t they under obligation to get express consent of the client for any such scheme instead of merely saying “we informed you last May”?
        Upon my protest, they have deactivated my account but I am not satisfied with this practice of theirs. Is there any forum where I can lodge a complaint against them ? Specifically, no service provider should include the namrer of any client in any fee-paying scheme without his/her express consent.

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Glynne Davies

          I need help with a fine from intuit of 25000 ! Card association fine for brand damaging transactions
          What do I do???

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            Jessica Dinsmore

            Hi Glynne,
            I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Try searching “PCI Compliance lawyer”. Best of luck to you.

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              Tom

              Thanks for the info. I found this page by doing a search for “Annual PCI Compliance Support fee”.

              My processor, Valtiv, is known to automatically opt you in to services they provide. A couple years ago I had to call and opt-out of a $90 charge for a RAAP fee, or as I call it a “rape” fee. I believe I had to do this two years in a row.

              Now I find myself in the same situation looking at my statement from last month. I’ve noticed a paragraph;
              “Vantiv is requiring minimum security standards to help merchants reduce risk and liabilities related to payment processing. You are being enrolled in the Omnishield Breach Assist Program at $24.95 per MID per month effective Aug, 1, 2016, which gives you access to breach assist and PCI tools and services. etc…”

              Really? If I didn’t look at my statement I’d be paying $299.40/yr for something I wouldn’t have even known I’d have access to. Seems pretty shady to me. Like I said, reminds me of the shenanigans they did a while back with the RAAP fee.

              The thing I’ve learned with this processor is to check my statements right when they come in the mail. I try not to set it aside, and try to open it and view the whole thing from front to back. I know they get shifty sometimes so I really want to keep myself on the ball here.

              I did a search and checked their website on how to opt-out of this $24.95/mn mystery fee and found a “Breach Assist Program Out-Out Form”. On the form it states that I opt-out of this fee but I do acknowledge and approve a “Annual PCI Compliance Support fee” of $50 per location per year capped at $150 per org. per year.

              I think I may have been paying that $50/yr in the past, so I believe it’s a normal fee. And after reading this page I suppose a PCI compliance “support fee” is normal. Because I do have access to a website “mymerchangedate.com” and “npcdata.net” where I can log into the website and answer a questionnaire and become “compliant”. I’m not really sure if my “support” fee is covering this process or not. I just know it’s something I have to do every year.

              I just wanted to let everyone know how easily it is to get duped into paying unnecessary fees. These “automatic fee enrollment” tactics should be illegal.

              READ YOUR MERCHANT STATEMENT EVERY MONTH!

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                Alex Lahiri

                When it says “annual” fee, does it mean annual as in calendar year or is it annual per my contract? I started my contract with Total Merchant Services in August 2015 but they charged me $99 regulatory and security fee in December 2015 citing “annual” nature of the fees. Is this right?
                Furthermore, I was not made aware by my customer service rep that compliance can be completed over the phone. She sent me the form. I found some fields difficult to understand. I didn’t follow through with the submission (can you blame me for losing track as I was trying to direct all my attention towards the set up of my business?). So, I kept getting hit with $19.95 each month.

                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                  david victorson

                  I have been charged a compliance fee from Esquire Bank. I have no relationship with Esquire Bank on any level. I had my bank call the PCI company and they were unavailable to talk about the fee they mistakenly charged our bank account. I would like to report this to the controller of currency.

                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                    Kevin Mendizabal

                    It’s amazing how many regulatory violations are revealed in this article. The FTC and department of insurance in their respective states would have a field day handing out fines. A processor can’t sell insurance unless they are licensed to do so. What they are actually doing is indemnifying. If it is represented or “sold” as insurance, that when the regulators could come after them. The article makes a valid point though, if the insurance policy (that is actually owned by the processor) does not pay the claim….then what? As far as the merchant is concerned, they were told they have insurance by their processor or agent. Now the processor could be be held legally liable for those damages. For a large portfolio that could add up, and won’t be covered on their e&o insurance. More food for thought, anything labeled as breach or PCI insurance doesn’t cover any damages or liability whatsoever, so if a merchant is sued for damaged by his customers he is out of luck. More food for thought, the ISOs currently being investigated for engaging in insurance could possibly face jail time as some states classify this as a felony. Highly doubtful scenario, but that’s how the statutes are worded.

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                      Ashish Tyagi

                      HI ,

                      Whats the fee for PCI DSS compliance for a PSP?

                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                        Chloe Bahal

                        Hi Ashish,

                        That information is something the PSP will know, so I would recommend contacting them and they will be able to give you more specific information. I hope this helps but if you have any further questions please let me know.

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                          Ronni

                          sounds like just another BS fee to be paid. Looks to me like the credit industry is making money on BOTH ends – again. Fees for NON compliance, as well as fees FOR compliance. I don’t know why I should PAY to prove to some faceless corporation that I can protect my customer’s data on my own computer. I only occasionally take credit card payments – seems to me like I should just STOP taking them and deal in cash or check only. Guess what? That would protect both my customers AND me, and all without some BS fee going into somebody’s corporate pocket.

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                            Rebecca

                            Exactly!!!

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                              Maribeth Bentivegna

                              I guess what I would like to know is, who’s pocket the fees are going into.

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                Maribeth Bentivegna

                                So it is the processors that inforce PCI compliance and assess non-compliant fees?

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  karen

                                  I also, found out that for a whole year I’ve been charged $19.99 for not filling out the
                                  monthly questionnaire.
                                  Does that mean that every month we have to fill out a questionnaire, or is it a once a year
                                  compliance?
                                  We only use the debit machine and for the most part we only use it for 6 months out of the
                                  year. Do I have to fill it out when we don’t use it?
                                  Thank you, Karen

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Tom DeSimone

                                    Hi Karen,

                                    The PCI Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) must be completed annually. Depending on your business, you may also need to perform quarterly system scans. An Attestation of Compliance must be completed annually too. For small businesses that use a third-party to handle the actual card data and storage, this process is very quick and easy (an hour or two of your time), and gets quicker and easier every year. There is nothing that you have to do on a monthly basis.

                                    Hope this helps,
                                    Tom

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                      Svetlana

                                      I have a small business with less then200 credit card transactions per year through the card terminal only.Security metric Company bother me every year as well as raise they fee to $170 .What I should do to stay PCI compline and not to pay this money?

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        Tom DeSimone

                                        Hi Svetlana,

                                        See this page for information on determining your compliance. Depending on your business, maintaining compliance can be either very easy or very difficult. In some cases, it will make sense to pay a company like Security Metrics to help you with this. You might also consider talking to your merchant account provider to see if they have a less expensive option to help you maintain compliance. Otherwise, just check out the above link. It will direct you to the Self Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs). There is a document in there that will help you figure out which questionnaire you need for your business type.

                                        Good luck,
                                        Tom

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                          Mike Lamm

                                          I am in the process of closing my account with my current processor. They have been charging me a annual fee of $95.00 and a monthly fee of $29.95 for the past 2 years. These fees are not listed on my monthly statement, I discovered them on my bank statement. Is this legal?

                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                            Tom DeSimone

                                            Hi Mike,

                                            Those fees should definitely have been listed somewhere on your statements. They don’t always make the fee easy to find, but it’s almost always there. I’m not sure if there is a law against assessing charges without listing them, but I can tell you for sure that the industry standard is to always list all fees on monthly statements. Scheduled fees like PCI are usually listed toward the bottom.

                                            Now if the fee was not listed on the fee page of your contract, or elsewhere in the contract, then it is certainly not legal. But most processors are sneaky, not stupid. They work around laws to increase profits, but don’t generally blatantly break them. So my guess is that you won’t have a legal case against them.

                                            But, that said, the $29.95 monthly fee is probably a PCI non-compliance fee. You might have a chance of getting some of that money back, since it’s really just a penalty for not doing the PCI self-assessment. The annual $95.00 is less likely to be refunded. And anything older than six months is unlikely to be refunded in any case, unless it was a fee charged by mistake.

                                            If you can’t get this resolved through customer service, try the Better Business Bureau. It depends on who your processor is, but sometimes refunds are possible. I know how frustrating this sort of thing is. Non-disclosure of fees is entirely unethical. Please check out our best-rated providers when you’re ready to switch.

                                            Good luck and take care,
                                            Tom

                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                              Jesse James, Esq.

                                              My firm desires to file a Class Action Law Suit against World Pay for Florida consumers pursuant to Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) (F.S. §501.201). World Pay has been charging consumers with PCI Non-Compliance fees without employing adequate procedures to alert consumers of the need to become compliant. Additionally, World Pay has failed to adequately inform or notify consumers who end up being Non-Compliant that they are in fact being charged an additional fee each month for remaining out of compliance. World Pay has chosen to slip the Non-Compliance fee into its billing with the hopes that it will go undetected by busy small business owners for as long as possible. Small businesses have been charged with PCI Non-Compliance charges for several months without a single written notice or phone call to alert the owners of their non-compliance or the fact that they are even being charged an additional fee for being non-compliant. World Pay has employed a “catch me if you can” strategy in its practices and procedures regarding scamming consumers out of $19.95 per month for as long as they can keep it going. Once the issue is finally detected the small business have in most cases paid out hundreds of dollars in non-compliance fees. This usually occurs with business who pay their monthly payment through direct draft and the amount of $19.95 is so insignificant it goes undetected for several months before it is finally discovered. Once discovered the small business owner is left with a “to bad so sad” response and a suggestion that they should log into their online account more frequently because any notifications will only be found that way. Florida consumers who would like to participate in this proposed Class Action Law Suit should leave their information through the “contact us” link on our website. http://www.jessejameslawfirm.com

                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                Alejandro

                                                We are a startup tutoring services firm in Texas.
                                                We got stuck with a five year contract and have been told we cannot get out out of it unless we pay the full five year monthly fee.

                                                Beware of WorldPay!

                                                We were able to get our money back from the initial non compliance fee when noticed after three months.

                                                Today, we are receiving the notice that we will be slapped with a $169 dollar annual compliance fee beginning with our December statement.

                                                Hope this warns other merchants as to the predatory nature of WorldPay.
                                                Also, let me know if we can join the lawsuit you are filing in Florida.

                                                Thank you very much,

                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                  Ray H

                                                  I can assure you that if you are getting your monthly statements from iPayment you are being scammed for PCI. I even had the fees waived in my contract (along with other abusive fees) and they took the fees out of my bank account anyway. Tried to cancel the accounts and they ignored my requests. Finally had to put a stop payment on my account to force them to stop. Switch to Square and you will never have to deal with PCI or other charges. Their flat rate ends up saving hundreds of dollars per year by eliminating all the extra fees.

                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                    Kelly Thrall

                                                    Thank you for your article. I have been charged these fees for the last 19 months and have questioned my merchant services provider over and over. During the time I have been growing my business I have not been able to devote much time to learning about this more but now I am wondering if it’s possible that re-coop these fees for having been charged them. I know that may be a long shot but had I not found something on my account a month after starting my services, I would have been over charged another $10 a month. When I found the “other” compliance fee, that told me it was optional. When I signed up for the agreement, I was not told it was optional. Just feeling scammed and when you are a small business trying to get off the ground, the last thing you want is a bank already making millions taking your hard earned profit.

                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                      Tom DeSimone

                                                      Hi Kelly,

                                                      In my experience, providers will sometimes issue refunds for PCI non-compliance fees, but rarely for PCI compliances fees. This is because the compliance fees usually come directly from the processor (but not the credit card network), so the account provider often does not have the power or flexibility to refund those fees. Non-compliance fees are often not issued directly from the processor, so there is more flexibility. If you want to try to get a refund and aren’t having luck with your provider’s customer service, try going to the BBB with the complaint. They might be willing to give a partial refund.

                                                      Good luck!
                                                      Tom

                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                        Antonio

                                                        Hi Tom,

                                                        we are small business in Canada. We received the letter from Elavon saying we are going to be charged PCI fee of $24.95 quarterly since November 2014. Actual fee process started in December and we saw it at the beginning of January. I was trying to get the information from Elavon what services they offer for the fee they charge us and if there is possibility to avoid this fee. Elavon said we need to contact the provider who is responsible for all the fees appearing on our statement. Of course we did. The company we have our agreement signed with said they have no power to control PCI fees. Who are we supposed to call? Who is going to answer our questions and reimburse us for the fee we have been charged? Is the PCI fee really necessary as we obtained Certificate of Validation and are aware of PCI Data Security Standards? Thank you!

                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                          Hi Antonio,

                                                          That sort of runaround is really frustrating. You are unlikely to get any refunds for fees already paid, but you should be able to get the fee waived for the future depending on your business needs. If you are maintaining your compliance with another vendor, there is really no reason at all for you to pay this fee.

                                                          That said, your provider will not want to waive this fee for you. Elavon cannot waive the fee directly. You have to go through the provider who drew up the contract for you. They do have the power to waive a PCI fee, regardless of what they tell you.

                                                          You can make a case for yourself if you possess a current PCI compliance certificate from an approved PCI compliance vendor. You will also generally have to fill out a waiver waiving your rights to use your processor’s PCI compliance services. This can absolutely be done.

                                                          If they give you a hard time, I’d recommend that you either threaten to cancel your account or even just do cancel your account. There are plenty of providers who won’t charge you PCI fees, even other providers who use Elavon. Take a look at Helcim for instance. They use Elavon as their processor, but don’t charge any PCI fees ever. Unless you don’t complete the questionnaire, in which case you could be charged a non-compliance (non-action) fee. So maybe talk to Helcim to see if they can help you switch.

                                                          Good luck,
                                                          Tom

                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                            Stacy

                                                            We switched to a new credit card company last year(march 2013) and this past month i noticed my rates where higher even tho our credit card amounts where the same. trying to figure out why, i printed all my statements and I was instantly pissed! I have been paying a non compliance fee for over 9 months and not one time was i notified by anyone about this. I called my sales rep and he told me that it is a required fee from Mastercard/visa(which is what he uses that as an excuse for every fee we get) and that i was contacted both by the credit card company and them (I gave him a few choice words for that, bc i never miss anything, and its hard to believe i would have missed two compliance notices)….anyways, I finally became complaint a couple days ago, but i am wondering also about the “annual fees” On top of being charged 19.99 a month on both of my accts, I was also charged a ” Regulatory/Complaince fee of $90 and a PCI complaince fee of $90. One was in march of this yr and may of this year. Isnt this the same fee??

                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                              Scott Ryals

                                                              I do maybe 20 transactions a year. I call them in verbally over the phone. Unless someone at the NSA taps my phone – what exactly is PCI doing for me? If I average the fee across the number of transactions I do per year the fee is sometimes more than the damned charge. From my point of view this is a stinking pile of bullsh*t.

                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                Tom DeSimone

                                                                Hi Scott,

                                                                While the steps your processor takes to ensure PCI compliance are valuable to you, since you must remain PCI compliant as per the credit card network guidelines even if you only do telephone orders, I 100% agree with you that PCI fees are often just a way for processors to cash in. A merchant in your position should not be paying the $80+ annually that is the industry-standard for PCI compliance. In most cases PCI fees can be waived during contract negotiations, and many providers simply do not charge this sort of fee.

                                                                With a transaction volume that low, you might consider using a mobile pay-as-you-go processor. You don’t really need a full merchant account to do only a couple dozen transactions annually. Check out Flint, for instance.

                                                                Good luck!

                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                  Frank Pulkownik

                                                                  I am being chargee $49.99 per month for non compliance fee. I need to call. Can I demand my money back?

                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                    Tom DeSimone

                                                                    Hi Frank,

                                                                    $50 monthly for non-compliance is very steep. You should check your contract and fee schedule to make sure that amount is correct. Assuming it is in your contract, you can’t “demand” your money back legally, but you can certainly ask for it back firmly. If you explain that you were not aware of this fee and would like a refund, your provider will almost certainly offer a partial refund at least. Just for the sake of curiosity, may I ask who you use for processing?

                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                      Dr Gina Delia

                                                                      Do you know anything about retriever credit card processing in NY. I tried to close my acct but it was auto renewed. I was told to close it someone must come to my office and I still can’t find out if there is a fee

                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                        Dr Gina Delia

                                                                        What is the difference between PCI compliance service and Platinium PCI service which I pay 90.00 annually to Retriever

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                                                                          Dave

                                                                          Is there a fee to be compliant or can you D.I.Y and if there is a fee, is it payable annually??

                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                            Amad Ebrahimi

                                                                            Dave, this really depends on the processor. Some of them charge an annual fee, some charge a monthly fee, and others don’t charge at all. As a rule, the monthly fee is usually for non-compliance. The annual fee is usually charged as a way to cover the processor’s costs for informing their customers and making sure they’re compliant.

                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                              Micky

                                                                              Thank you SO much for this article–very concise and very helpful. I run a very small business and am just starting the mobile credit card gig. Eeek. I’ve bookmarked this site as a must read.

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                                                                                Pat Roche

                                                                                I was charged £30 per month for over 7 months before I printed off my statements for my tax return back in January…

                                                                                Yes, I had to fill out a form to become compliant and hopefully they have stoped charging me now (I haven’t gone back online to view my statements, too busy with getting the job done…)
                                                                                I did try to complain but they said they had advised their merhants on their web site…
                                                                                I strongly advise you to go on line now and review your statements and even if you haven’t been charged fill out the form!

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                                                                                  J Curtis

                                                                                  Tank you so much for your article. I have noticed a charge of $99.00 on my statement for pci fees and now 19.95 per month.

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                                                                                    Christine Roy

                                                                                    I just want to thank you for providing this information. My head is so filled with different companies’ junk info that I sometimes don’t know which end is up.

                                                                                    I am very much afraid of this venture of mine into the world of internet retail. I’ve already been scammed out of $300 and it is frightening to realize just how many deceitful companies there are out there. When a person is all alone in opening a store etc. it can be devistating to discover that you’ve been “duped” despite trying to research every little thing that has to be done just to open my virtual doors. Thank you again for information that is not self-serving.

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                                                                                      Amad E.

                                                                                      No problem Christine, we’re glad to help. If you have any questions, you can always contact us directly.

                                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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