Understanding Fee Statements Everything Business Owners Need To Know

Knowledge is power when it comes to winning in business (and life). This is especially true in the realm of fees, fee statements, and payments. 

Virtually all merchants today must accept credit cards and other non-cash modes of payment. And as you know, processing these transactions isn’t free; that’s why you need to understand the fees you’re being charged and ensure you’re not paying more than you should. 

The first step to doing that is understanding the fee statement. Sometimes referred to as a merchant account statement, your fee statement is a detailed record of all transactions processed, associated fees, and other account-related activities over a specific period.

In this article, we’ll help you decode your fee statement, so you can run the numbers and identify areas of potential savings. 

TL;DR

  • A fee statement, also known as a merchant account statement, details all the transactions a business processed, the associated fees, and account-related activities over a specific period. 
  • Not all fee statements look the same. The exact information that’ll be included in your fee statement will depend on your payment processor’s pricing structure.
  • Don’t just take your fee statement’s information at face value. Cross-check the data with your own records and sales reports. This step helps ensure accuracy, uncover potential errors, and confirm you’re not charged for transactions you didn’t process.

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What is a Fee Statement?

A fee statement, also known as a merchant account statement, is a document provided by your merchant services provider, typically every month. It outlines all the transactions that your business has processed during the statement period, including credit and debit card sales and refunds. 

What Information Can Be Found in the Fee Statement?

The merchant fee statement should detail your account activity, as well as the transactions and fee information for the month. Here’s a breakdown of the key information you can expect when you view your statement.

Fee overview

This section is usually found at the top of the statement, and it shows the total fees you’ve been charged. If you want a quick look at the amount due, you should look here. 

Summary of account activity

Some statements may also provide a quick summary of your account activity for the month. This usually includes the total number of transactions, sales volume, refunds, chargebacks, etc. 

Detailed list of transactions

Your statement will also go into deeper detail about your account activity. This typically means listing each individual transaction processed during the statement period.

Fees charged

In addition to listing the merchant’s transactions, the fee statement also details the fees associated with these transactions, including:

  • transaction fees (interchange, assessments, and markup)
  • monthly service fee
  • terminal fees
  • payment gateway fees
  • early termination fees
  • other incidentals like chargeback fees
  • retrieval fees
  • paper statement fee
  • account fees
  • monthly fees

It’s important to note that not all fee statements look the same. The exact information that’ll be included in your fee statement will depend on your payment processor’s pricing structure. 

For instance, if you’re working with a provider that uses interchange plus pricing, then your statement will likely have a breakdown of interchange fees and the markup of your merchant services provider. 

On the other hand, if you’re using a provider like Stax, which doesn’t charge markups and instead uses a membership-based structure, then your fee statement won’t have those markup costs. 

Example of a Fee Statement

To give you a better idea of what a fee statement can look like, here’s an example of the merchant statement we have at Stax.

In this instance, the merchant is implementing credit card surcharging, which means they pass along the credit card processing fees to the customer. 

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Let’s break down the different components of their merchant account statement. 

  • The amount in the “Total” section represents the merchant’s gross funds, less any refunds and surcharge fees. 
  • The amount in the “Total Fees” section lists the fees the merchant incurred for non-surcharged transactions. 
  • Processing fees are paid for non-surcharged transactions. 
  • The Surcharge column shows the surcharges customers paid, categorized based on the card brand. 

Again, your statement will likely look different, depending on your processors and the payment methods you accept. Hopefully, though, this example gives you a solid foundation for understanding the core components of most fee statements.

How to Access the Fee Statement

Like most financial statements, your fee statement can be sent via mail, or you can opt to go paperless and have the documents emailed to you. Modern payment processors usually have a merchant portal where you can log in and access your monthly statements. 

Note that most paperless options require an enrollment process. As such, if you prefer to go digital and have the documents available online, ask your provider about their capabilities. 

How to Review Your Merchant Fee Statement

Now that we’ve covered the basic anatomy of merchant fee statements, let’s look at the steps you can take to review yours effectively. 

Understand your statement

The best way to make sense of your statements is to understand the basics—i.e., what the different terms mean, the different types of fees, and how they apply to your business operations.

The good news is that if you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to understanding your fee statements. 

Set aside time to review these documents

Just like with any important task, scheduling an activity increases the likelihood of it getting done. If you really want to dig into your statements, put some time into your calendar to review them.

Familiarize yourself with your statement fee schedule so you know when it’s coming. Then, block out an hour or so to go through it. This structured approach ensures you won’t overlook or rush this financial task.

Verify the information

Don’t just take any information at face value. Cross-check your fee statement data with your own records and sales reports. This step helps you ensure accuracy, uncover potential errors, and confirm you’re not being charged for transactions that shouldn’t have incurred fees.

Pro tip: Most POS systems offer sales and transaction reports that can help you verify the information on your fee statement. Plus, if you’re using integrated payments, generating payment reports that directly correspond with your merchant account activities is relatively easy. Leveraging these tools can simplify the verification process so you can spend less time drilling down on the numbers. 

Compare the information with previous periods

Compare your current statement with the ones you’ve received in the past. This will allow you to spot trends, identify inconsistencies, and monitor changes in your payment processing costs over time. 

Compare different providers

If you switched providers, it’s also helpful to compare the statements of different payment processors. Which vendor is more transparent? Which one offers better rates? The best way to get answers is to compare and contrast the different statements. 

Get in touch with your payment processor if needed

See anything amiss on your fee statement? Get in touch with your provider and bring up discrepancies, errors, or parts that aren’t clear. In addition to rectifying any mistakes, having these conversations will help you better navigate the complexities of payment processing. 

Bringing it all together

Understanding your merchant fee statement isn’t just about digging into financial documents; it’s about gaining better control of your business’ financial health. Knowing exactly what each line and amount means puts you in a better position to negotiate fees, save money, and run a stronger business overall. 

And if you need a merchant services partner that offers powerful payment solutions, transparent fees, and top-notch customer support—check out Stax Payments. 

Unlike other payment processors, Stax doesn’t take a cut out of your revenue. Our membership model gives you access to wholesale processing fees, which translates to hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars worth of savings per month. Plus, we don’t charge any additional costs, so there are no surprises when your statement arrives. 

Stax also offers a fully compliant credit card surcharging program, which allows you to pass the processing fees directly to the customer, further minimizing your costs.

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FAQs about Fee Statement

Q: What is a fee statement?

A fee statement, also termed a merchant account statement, is a document provided by your merchant services provider, typically every month. It details all the transactions a business has processed, including credit and debit cards sales and refunds, during the statement period.

Q: What information is included in the fee statement?

The merchant fee statement should contain details of your account activity, the transactions and fee information for the month. It generally includes a summary of account activity, a detailed list of transactions, and fees charged related to these transactions.

Q: Does the fee statement structure vary with payment processors?

Yes, not all fee statements look the same. The exact information in your fee statement is reliant on your payment processor’s pricing structure. For instance, certain processors might include a breakdown of interchange fees and their markup, while others might omit markup costs altogether.

Q: How can I access the fee statement?

Fee statements can be sent via mail, or you can switch to paperless versions and have them emailed to you. Many modern payment processors typically have a merchant portal where you can log in and access your monthly statements.

Q: How to effectively review your merchant fee statement?

Initially, you need to understand your statement completely. Cross-check the fee statement data with your records and sales reports to verify the information’s accuracy. It’s good practice to compare your current statement with those from previous periods to spot trends and changes in payment processing costs.

Q: Can the fee statement help me save costs?

Yes. Understanding the fee statement helps you spot potential areas of savings and negotiate fees. Verifying your statement details ensures you’re not being charged for transactions that haven’t incurred fees, thereby saving money.

Q: What if there are discrepancies in my fee statement?

If you identify any discrepancies or errors in your fee statement, get in touch with your provider immediately. They will rectify any mistakes and clarify any information that isn’t clear.

Q: What is credit card surcharging?

Credit card surcharging is a program where you pass on the processing fees directly to the customer, thereby decreasing your costs. This program would be represented in your fee statement.

Q: What is Stax’s pricing approach?

Stax operates on a membership model providing access to wholesale processing fees. This could result in significant savings per month. Stax also offers a fully compliant credit card surcharging program allowing customers to bear the processing fees.

Q: Can my POS system assist in verifying my fee statement?

Absolutely, most POS systems offer sales and transaction reports that can aid in verifying the information on your fee statement. This reduces time spent deep diving into the numbers and simplifies the verification process.