PCI Compliance Fee Definition

Merchant Account PCI Compliance Fee Explained:

What is a PCI Compliance Fee? The PCI Compliance fee, also sometimes called a “PCI DSS Compliance Fee,” is a cost that is imposed by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards Counsel (PCI DSS) onto credit card processing service providers and sales organizations.  PCI DSS is an organization created and controlled by the major U.S. card networks –American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa Inc. — and is responsible for overseeing and enacting data security policies regarding the card processing industry. Contrary to what merchant account providers often claim, the U.S. Government has no involvement in PCI Compliance.

PCI Compliance costs are initially incurred by merchant services providers as the sum total of the internal costs of maintaining compliance, security audit costs, and fines for breaches and non-compliance. Some of the collected fees go to PCI DSS Counsel in order to fund on-going security and fraud fighting activities.  Merchant account providers often pass these costs onto merchants as annual or monthly “PCI Compliance Fees” based on their average cost per merchant account, plus a profit markup.

Critics argue that PCI Compliance fees are a scam of the payment card industry because the fees passed onto merchants are usually marked up with enormous profit margins. Additionally, they say that most processors provide no added value or services in exchange for the PCI Compliance fee and even charge it to merchants that have validated that they are compliant with PCI DSS requirements. Many call the PCI Compliance fee a form of taxation without representation.

PCI Compliance Fees may also be listed in a merchant account statement under different names, such as “Security Fee,” “Regulatory Fee,” and other similar variations.

PCI Compliance Video Explanation

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I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry to start my own a small business. From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to write about it, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this insider knowledge to myself, so decided to build this website to help you research which providers to use and how to save money on rates and fees. I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers here. Simply scroll to the top of the page to find the search bar. You can also message me if you need any guidance.

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4 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. Frank Concerto says:

    I spoke with someone from PCI and there is no PCI annual fee. He said maybe they are talking about isa of Mastercard but no such fee from them. None of the major players mandate any annual PCI Compliance Fee. That includes Visa, mastercard,American or Discover. These are fees to merchants from credit card processors to make more money. There are credit card processors who don’t charge these fees who will attest to that and these are the companies merchants should deal with. Of course any kind of fee , no matter what it is called, whether monthly or annually should be subject to scrutiny.
    I only signed up as a matter of convenience to the occasional customer that will use a card. I have no storefront operation. I have done less than 1 transaction per month on average and so it would not pay for me to have a processing service who will charge an annual “PCI Compliance Fee” as well as monthly statement fee which can vary in amount and number of fees depending on the processor.
    I recently signed with National Merchant Services in Brooklyn NY who has First Data do their processing for them. I signed a contract which showed $.00 in the annual fee box so I signed it. They just took $145 out of my account on Dec 3, 2012 . I did one transaction for $179.64. Of the $145 taken from my account without my knowledge or authorization was $115 for annual compliance, $ 15 for Non-Matching federal Id# which matched the other months and which i have had for decades. The management refuses to refund any of the money. You can see why more and more merchants will become wary of who they deal with and should require written guarantees before signing on. people like that should go to jail just as much as someone picking your pocket on a train or the street.

  2. Colin H says:

    This is so true. I just noticed a $125 PCI FEE on my account. I use less than 1 transaction per month. What credit card gateway company can I use that will not rip me off like this?

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      It sounds like you would be best suited using a mobile processing app: Top Rated Mobile Processors

  3. LUCILE MARTIN says:

    I just started online store started using mobile machine for vending as well as phone. Have hardly used the machine due to not service at events I have vended so far. My PCI DSS Compliance Fee is like $119 and more a month. We cannot afford this at this time. What do I do.

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