FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the Maculator
Merchant Account Cost Calculator

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What is the Maculator?

The Maculator is a Merchant Account Cost Comparison Calculator designed to calculate the monthly processing costs of Merchant Account offers and Third Party Credit Card Processors programs based on your monthly sales volume and sales numbers.  The Maculator gives you a side-by-side comparison of rates and costs including the dollar costs and the net percent of processing costs over sales for any two providers you select.

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What is the CLinker?

The CLinker is a link connection system designed to keep track of links to partners and affiliates that interest our users. Users are protected by the extra layer of Internet server to server connection. Link use is monitored for security and effectiveness in case the intended link resource has security problems or is no longer available. Spammers can also be blocked by this system, if identified. No personal user information is collected or shared by the CLinker.

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Why do I need to use the Maculator?
 
The Maculator can help you determine the best alternative processor to enable you to accept credit cards based on the lowest rates and services offered by the providers.  Over 10 processors like PayPal have different discount rates for sellers based on their amount of sales.   These sales rate levels, also known as tiers, can range from 2 to 15 and can use a number of different criteria to determine the correct rates.  You can enter your current sales numbers or numbers you expect in the future and the Maculator will calculate the expected monthly costs with the push of a button.  The Maculator saves you time trying to calculate these costs by yourself.  It also saves you time in doing the research to find some of the alternative resources that may be the best solution for you.  To our knowledge, there are no other resources on the web with as many Third Party Processors listed in one place.

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How can I best use the filters?
 
The filters help you select the providers you need for your business with a minimum of key strokes.  Keep in mind that the providers with the lowest prices often avoid the services and products that are offered by higher priced providers.  Many providers specialize in different types of products and different levels of accepted risk.  You can compare the costs of using the providers that fit your business profile by selecting the appropriate filter:
 
  • All Providers:  Use this filter to view all the providers included in the Maculator database.  This includes over a dozen merchant account providers and over forty 3rd party providers.  Since many providers offer several programs with different rates, this filter will result in over 80 selections!  Use this to compare rates and services between all providers in the database.
  • 3rd Party Providers:  Use this filter to compare rates and features between all 3rd party providers.  Over 60 providers are included in this selection due to the multiple programs offered by some 3rd party providers. 
  • Merchant Accounts:  This filter will result in over a dozen merchant account provider programs.  Most of the difference in costs between merchant account providers is due to the types of products or countries accepted by the providers.  This is the default filter when you first enter the Maculator website.
  • Affiliates Opportunity:  Use this filter to see over 40 providers including merchant accounts and 3rd party providers who offer compensation to affiliates.  By signing up as an affiliate, you can earn referral fees by providing links to affiliates on your web sites.
  • Digital Products Only:  Use this filter if you sell digital products and only want to compare providers that specialize in digital products.  Over a dozen provider programs, 3rd party only, are included in this selection.
  • Digital Software:  Software developers should use this filter to view over ten 3rd party providers who specialize in selling your software and supporting the registration process.
  • Digital Download Support:  Use this filter to select over a dozen 3rd party processors who offer download services for your digital products.  These providers allow developers to publish products with a minimum of costs and effort. 
  • Digital Not Software:  This filter is intended for producers of digital art and web content, other than software.  Using this filter will return around thirty merchant account and 3rd party providers.
  • Digital Not Software or High Risk:  For artists and producers of digital art that is not high risk or adult, this filter is for you.  Using this filter will return about half-dozen 3rd party providers, or more.
  • Not Digital 3rd Party:  Use this filter to compare only those 3rd party providers who do not specialize in digital products.  This filter will return about 4 dozen 3rd party provider offers.
  • Directory Marketing:  Use this filter to compare over 20  merchant account and 3rd party providers who offer directory listings for merchants on the provider's website.   These providers will help you market your products as well as process your transactions. 
  • High Risk Content:  For vendors of adult, pharmacy, gaming and other high risk content, this filter is for you.  Using this filter will allow you to compare the rates of over 40 merchant account and 3rd party providers who support high risk content.
  • Multi-Countries:  Over 50 merchant account and 3rd party providers provide processing services to merchants in many countries outside the United States of America.  If your business is located outside the United States, this filter will help you compare rates for appropriate providers.
  • Multi-Currencies:  Using this filter will help you select over 40 merchant account and 3rd party providers who provide support for multiple currencies.  If you market your services internationally, this filter will help you find providers to streamline your shopping cart system.
  • Multi-Languages:  Over a dozen merchant account and 3rd party providers offer multiple languange screens and shopping carts to facilitate international trade.  Use this filter to compare prices for the ultimate international trade resources.
  • US Merchants Accepted:  Use this filter to select over 70 merchant account and 3rd party providers who accept merchants based in the United States of America. 
  • Free Setup Fee:  Use this filter to select over 50 merchant account and 3rd party providers who offer their services with no setup fee.
  • Free Annual Fee:  This filter will select over 70 merchant account and 3rd party providers who do not charge an annual fee.
  • Free Monthly Fee:  Using this filter will result in over 80 merchant account and 3rd party providers who do not charge a monthly fee.
  • Free Setup, Annual, Monthly Fee:  You will find over thirty 3rd party processors, using this filter, who do not charge either setup, annual or monthly fees.  Use this filter to avoid charges for low or zero processing periods.
  • Discount Rate < 3%:  Using this filter will result in about 30 merchant account and 3rd party providers with the lowest discount rates. 
  • Discount Rate < 5%:  This filter will return over 3 dozen merchant account and 3rd party providers with discount rates below 5%.
  • Discount Rate < 7%:  This filter will return over 4 dozen merchant account and 3rd party providers with discount rates below 7%.
  • Discount Rate < 9%:  This filter will return over 5 dozen merchant account and 3rd party providers with discount rates below 9%.
  • Discount Rate < 11%:  This filter will return over 7 dozen merchant account and 3rd party providers with discount rates below 11%.

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Why do I need to save my calculated data in the Maculator?
 
Saving your calculated data is an option that allows you to see a grid of saved data containing all the comparisons you made and saved.  This makes it easier to compare calculated costs for many different providers in one view.  You will probably come back to the Maculator several times over the next few weeks or months.  By saving your calculated data with a unique business and user key name combination that you select from the drop-down lists, you can make your own collection of information that you can view and analyze whenever you return.  To see your previously saved data, all you need to do is enter a new calculation with the same business and user key name combination,  press the Maculate button and then press the Save in Database button.  You can then press the View Saved Data and see your data in the grid.  When viewing the grid, you can press the Detail \ View column on any item to see the item-by-item calcuation for each entry.  You can also click on the Preview Test Data link on the Index / Home page to see the saved data for the Test items. 
 
In the ViewRates.aspx form, by selecting your Business and User Key Name in the search fields you can select the data that you saved from the database. This selection will include comparisons made and saved by all users who use the same combination of selected names.  The selection can be filtered for any Business Name, User Key Name combination that you select in the appropriate fields.

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Can other users see the data I save?
 
Yes.  All users can see the data in the table as shown in the Preview Test Data link on the home page which does not show any confidential or personal information.  No login or password is required.  The drop-down lists for business and user key names are alphabetically ordered and give you a set of data that cannot expose your confidentiality.  With 26 Business Names and 26 User Key Names to select, the combinations of unique sets number 26 squared or 676.  This allows you to view a fairly small set of data with any combination of names, especially some combinations that may not be popular.

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How long will data I save be stored?

Data you save will be stored and available for one year. Older data become stale due to changing rates and requirements for providers over time.

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How accurate are calculations of cost using the Maculator?

The Maculator is designed to include as many fee items and rates as possible to provide an accurate and comparable cost calculation for all types of formulas used by Third Party Processors and Merchant Account providers.  Some of the processors use a rate tier based on the sales item price.  In this case, the Maculator uses the Average Ticket to select the appropriate tier.  Others use a price level and monthly sales volume combined for a complex structure of multiple tiers.  The Maculator calculates the Average Ticket and selects the appropriate rates by sales volume in this case using customized program logic. 

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How can I see a detailed view of the calculated cost for each comparison?

The best way to see the details of each calculated cost item is to Save the data after pressing the Maculate button and View the saved data details by clicking the View link in the Detail column of the grid.  This view shows how each item was calculated including the discount amount, transaction fee, batch header fee, monthly minimum, monthly statement fee, monthly gateway fee, annual fee and setup / application fee.

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How many items are included in Maculator calculations?

The Maculator includes the following items as appropriate for each calculation:

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Are chargeback fees included in Maculator calculations?

No.  Chargeback fees are not included in the Maculator calculations due to the fact that the number of chargebacks expected per month can vary significantly for different business operations.  Returns, chargebacks and penalties for chargebacks are commonly deducted from the seller's account for most Merchant Account Providers and Third Party Processors.  If you have a chargeback ratio of 1% or more, you can expect problems and extra fees or penalties from most providers.  There are a few exceptions which are noted in the Maculator notes.

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Are reserve discounts included in Maculator calculations?

No.  Reserve discounts are common in Merchant Accounts and rare in Third Party Processors.  The reserve discount is usually returned to the merchant after a 6-month holding period and therefore is not a true permanent cost but rather a cash-flow issue.

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How do I get a complete Fees Disclosure from a Merchant Account Provider or 3rd Party Processor?

In many states it is a legal requirement for the Merchant Account Provider to provide a Schedule of Fees to the merchant as a part of the merchant agreement.  You can and should ask each provider for a complete Fee Disclosure before signing any committment or making an on-line agreement.  Be sure to print and copy any pages on the website that include fees and agreement details. Since these rates can be changed, you need to read the fine print regarding notification of fee changes.

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Where does the data come from in the Maculator?

Most of the data is researched directly from the providers' websites.  In a few cases, information was provided by request through e-mail.  Those providers who do not publish their rates on the web and do not reply to requests by e-mail are not included in the Maculator

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How often are rates for merchant accounts and third party processors updated in the Maculator?
 
Updates are made as soon as new information is discovered.  This can occur several times a week.  See the Maculator Updates page for a chronicle of all recent updates.  Interested parties who wish to suggest any updates or corrections should contact b2bexec[AT]mgoldmine.com. Several technical forums also provide valuable information and suggestions for the Maculator.  If you search for "forum The Maculator" in your favorite search engine, you will find a number of discussion threads in different forums about merchant accounts, 3rd party processors and the Maculator.  

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Are all Third Party credit card processors included in the Maculator?
 
All those that we have discovered are included with the exception of a couple that don't publish rates, don't reply to e-mail requests, or don't have functional forms on their websites.
 
Are all Merchant Account providers included in the Maculator?
 
There are so many Merchant Account providers on the web that we have to be selective.  Some have better rates; others have attractive features that may be of value to your type of business. For any merchant account provider or credit card processor, if you can get specific cost details and enter them in the appropriate Maculator fields on the Comparison page you can get a quick calculation of costs for your business profile. Save or print the comparison calculations as needed

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Does the Maculator get affiliate revenues from the listed providers?
 
Some of the Third Party processors and most of the Merchant Account providers can potentially provide referral fees to the Maculator.  We encourage our visitors to take advantage of the Affiliate Opportunities offered by these providers for your own extra revenue.  In some cases your customers could also become down-line affiliates. Affiliate revenues should be only one of the criteria you use to select a Merchant Account provider or Third Party processor.  We hope you will also appreciate that without referral fees, the costs of the Maculator operation would be untenable.

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Where can I get more objective information about the processors listed in the Maculator?
 
Several technical forums provide discussion threads about certain 3rd party processors and merchant accounts.  If you search for "Maculator" in your favorite search engine, you may find a few discussion threads in different forums about merchant accounts, 3rd party processors and the Maculator.   You may also join these forums (it's free!) and ask questions about specific processors to members who may have used their services.   There are also a number of forums that focus on complaints about various 3rd party processors and merchant account providers.  Use the search key word "complaint" followed by the provider's name in your favorite search engine to locate these discussions.  When browsing these forums, keep in mind that there's no way to verify the veracity of the content of these complaints and that there may be deceitful intent by various parties either pro or con the company in question.  Nonetheless, we believe that you should study these complaints and use your own judgement or investigation methods to evaluate their significance in your choice of a provider.  It's also important to ask specific questions to providers by e-mail who may have failed to publish information about fees, chargeback fines, reserves, restricted products, multi-language support, multi-country support, and so on.  Try to get a copy of the agreement page and print the page or save the page prior to signing up.  Read it very carefully and request more information about language or sections of the agreement that you may find disfavorable or confusing.

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How do new providers get added to the Maculator?

Send an e-mail to b2bexec[AT]mgoldmine.com for all inquiries regarding new providers or needed updates in rates or features.  If you add information in the Maculator about a new provider and save the data with a unique business name we can also use this information for reference.  See FAQ items above about saving data for more information.  More instructions are also provided in the Maculator Compare Rates form.

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How do listed providers format links directly to their own rates in the Maculator?
 
Several providers alreadly listed in the Maculator use the Maculator as a reference from their own websites.  This is a convenient way to show comparisons between their own rates and those of competitors in the same class.  Instead of linking to the main Maculator Index page, they link to the Compare Rates page with a search string that automatically loads their own rates in the form.  Without the proper link, the Compare Rates form will bounce the request to the main page or will load a default listing.  The standard format for this type of Direct Provider Link is composed as follows: http://www.mgoldmine.com/CompareRates.aspx?ProviderName=Affero&clk=EX1.   This link will automatically load Affero into the Maculator Compare Rates form.  Your company name will replace 'Affero' to load your rates.  This name must be spelled exactly the way it is listed in our database.  It is case sensitive.  To check on our spelling, go to the Index page and click on the Maculate Me! link for your listing.  You will see your name as we spell it in the URL address on your browser.  We invite all listed providers to use the direct provider link as you see fit.  If you wish to use your own frames, that's OK, too, but we would expect you to credit our Maculator services.  You will also benefit by giving us this credit, because this will show that we are independent of your organization and that we make every effort to be impartial and accurate in our comparisons.
 

Merchant Account Technology Advanced ...

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Interested Parties may Contact b2bexec[AT]merchantgoldmine.com
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