Credit Card Acceptance FAQs
Why are VISA and MasterCard fees different?
There are alternate channels that Entrata has to go through to accept Visa vs. MasterCard and Discover. MasterCard and Discover can use a variable fee and variable amount – For example a 3% on whatever total charge there is.
Visa on the other hand requires that the convenience fee be a flat fee. This is typically priced near the top-end of what a total of scheduled charges would be for a month. For example, if charges owed are $1,429 and the flat fee is $1,500, VISA requires us to charge the fee based on the full $1,500. This is especially problematic when the charge is far less than the flat fee amount.
If the flat fee amount is set too low, then residents looking to pay over the flat fee amount will not have Visa as an option.
Each property can make a decision on where to set their flat fee amount. Since only 3% of all payments are credit cards, it is typical that the flat fee be set around 85% of the maximum scheduled charge amount.
What is the difference between surcharges and convenience fees?
The fees that Entrata is charging within the resident portal are convenience fees. If you are challenged on the legality of the convenience fees, it is important to note that convenience fees are different than surcharges. Surcharges, for example are illegal in the Republic of Texas.
Are convenience fees illegal?
Yes and No. Convenience fees are legal if residents are paying through the Resident Portal or over the telephone (for convenience). They are however illegal if they are face to face with our staff and our staff member is entering the credit card number. This is why HRA policy is not to accept credit cards in the office. Unfortunately, if the staff member takes the card number over the phone and enters it, there is no way to distinguish that it was taken over the phone if challenged. For this reason, we advise on no acceptance of credit cards over the phone as well.
Entrata’s legal department willingly accepts challenges we face from Attorney Generals etc. associated with the charging of convenience fees.
Why do we not have control over the convenience fee charged within the transaction cycle?
Many residents may argue the validity of the convenience fee or blame HRA for the high cost of it. It is important to note that we have little control over the transaction cycle of a credit card. There is the issuer (e.g. Citibank), the card brand (e.g. Visa), the Merchant Acquirer (e.g. Entrata), and Merchant (e.g. HRA).
What is protocol for accepting credit cards?
- Property Staff should not enter credit card numbers on behalf of their residents either face to face or by telephone. Residents should be required to pay via credit card through their resident portal.