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Glossary of terms

Authorisation Code :


A code that notifies you that you have obtained the authorisation for a specific card transaction. Note: You should print this on the sales draft

AVS (Address Verification System) : 


In 1996, Visa®/MasterCard® headquarters introduced a new regulation requiring all businesses who manually key in the majority of their credit card transactions to have a special fraud prevention feature on their credit card processing equipment. This feature is referred to as an address verification system (it checks to see that the billing address given by the customer matches the credit card). If you opt not to use AVS, VISA® and MasterCard® will not support your transactions and will charge you an additional percentage on those sales.

Chargeback :


A charge back occurs when a card holder disputes a credit card transaction with his or her credit card issuer. The card issuer initiates a charge back against the merchant account. The amount of the disputed transaction is immediately withdrawn from the merchant’s bank account, and the merchant has 10 days in which to dispute the charge back with proof of purchase, signature, proof of delivery, etc. A charge back is ultimately decided and resolved by the card association. A charge back fee is usually assessed to the merchant on top of the actual transaction. See also retrieval request.

Currency conversion: The process by which the transaction currency is converted into the currency of settlement or the currency of the issuer for the purpose of facilitating transaction authorisation, clearing and settlement reporting. The currency of the transaction is determined by the acquirer; the currency of the issuer is the preferred currency used by the issuer, and most often, the currency in which the cardholder will be billed.

Floor limit :


A specific limit used to determine which card transactions you must authorise. If your business has a floor limit of £1,000 — you must get authorisation for any transaction over that amount. Note: All airline, telephone, and mail order transactions must be authorised, even if the amount is under your floor limit.

Holdback/ reserve :


A portion of the revenue from a merchant’s credit card transactions, held in reserve by the merchant account provider to cover possible disputed charges, charge back fees, and other expenses. After a predetermined time, holdbacks are turned over to the merchant. Note: Merchant account providers almost never pay interest on holdbacks.

Issuing bank :


The bank that maintains the consumer’s credit card account and must pay out to the merchant’s account in the event of a credit card purchase. The issuing bank then bills the customer for the debt.

Merchant Account :


A specialised bank approved and issued account to process credit card transactions. One of three parts needed to accept credit cards. Other parts required are a local bank business account (to deposit funds) and a processing solution (to access your merchant account) such as a terminal or gateway.

Merchant Identification Number (MID number) :


The number a financial institution assigns to a merchant to identify your business.

Monthly minimum :


This is a fee that is imposed if your credit card charges (Discount Rate) do not add up to their monthly minimum amount. For example, your monthly minimum is £25 a month. If your credit card discount rate was 2.25% and you processed £1000.00 in credit card volume, £22.50 is charged to the account plus an additional £2.50 (the difference between the £25.00 minimum and actual discount fees).

Also: The minimum amount in fees and percentages charged by a merchant services provider in a given month. If account activity does not generate the monthly minimum, the account holder must make up the difference.

Payment gateway (see also – real-time processing) :


The code that transmits a customer’s order to and from a merchant’s bank’s transaction-authorising agent — usually a MAP (merchant account provider). See also payment gateway provider.

PCI Compliance :


PCI rules prohibit the storage of cardholder information. All merchants and service providers that store, process, or transmit cardholder data are required to comply with PCI DSS. Compliance is not optional. Even the smallest businesses are required to complete an annual self-assessment form, implementing the 12 basic PCI requirements.

Receipt :


A hardcopy document representing a transaction that took place at the point of sale, with a description that usually includes: date, merchant name/location, primary account number, amount and reference number.

Retrieval request :


A retrieval request is what happens when a cardholder cannot remember a credit card transaction, or the bank wants to order information for some reason. The card issuer initiates a retrieval request, in which the merchant has 10 days to respond with the order information or the retrieval request will turn into a charge back. There is usually a retrieval request fee issued against the merchant also in these cases.

Settlement :


The process by which merchant and cardholder banks exchange financial data and value resulting from sales transactions, cash disbursements and merchandise credits.



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