Alternatives to Traditional Credit Card Payments

Businesses are always looking for alternatives to traditional credit card payments. Some new (and some older) programs that offer customers options, and keep expenses low, do so by passing on a fee to the customer.

Here are a few things to consider and the differences of various programs and payment options.

  • surcharge
  • convenience fee
  • dual pricing
  • e-Check
  • cash


This is when you choose to apply a surcharge to the transaction. A surcharge is a set percentage based fee assessed on the transaction total regardless of the type of card the customer is using. It is important to be clear in your communication to the customer prior to engaging in a transaction and to post your fee at the front of the business and at the POS.

The amount allowed may vary by bankcard (Visa or Mastercard) with a cap on the percentage of 3% or less for example.

Please know that some states still do not allow businesses to use this program for customers, so it is important to check with your Merchant Service provider to be sure.

Convenience Fee

You may also consider a convenience fee. The use of a flat fee or convenience fee maintains the same cost to any customer regardless of the transaction amount.

Here again, be sure to follow state laws and to post your options for payment, whether it is cash, credit card with convenience fee, check, or e-Check.

It is a best practice to have this information clearly available at the Point Of Sale so the customer can choose what form of payment is right for them.

Dual Pricing

Dual pricing uses technology to help merchants offer a credit card price and cash price in store. By clearly displaying both prices, customers have the choice to pay however they want, and to understand price differences more clearly.

Merchants simplify their experience by clearly disclosing both prices in store and letting the payments terminal do the rest of the work. The terminal displays the option to the customer with a total sale amount due if paid via a credit card or using cash.

Be aware of local and state laws that may impact your ability to use this pricing feature for your business.


An e-Check offers the customer the option to pay via their bank account. This is also known as a digital check or electronic check.

Customers do not need to hand-write a paper check nor does the business need to go to the bank to deposit the payment. The e-Check is processed when the transaction is made and the time to clear as a deposit is similar to an EFT or traditional credit card payment.


Seemingly the simplest form of payment, some businesses are choosing cash only to completely eliminate fees and expenses.

You probably already know the benefits and risks of this.

It seems like a “no cost” option, but time is still spent when accepting cash. Trusted staff or owners need to count cash, make bank deposits, and keep the amount of bills in the POS system drawer low enough to reduce risk of (and hopefully prevent) theft. This takes time and the expense of this can add up.

Many Payment Options

Today there are many payment options and it is important to weigh each of them carefully before putting a new payment program into effect.

Want to learn more?

Reach out for a complimentary 20-minute assessment of your payment programs. In a free consultation, we will review what may work for your business and how to set up a new program.