Merchant Card Processing Support

Innovative solutions combined with unmatched service

The TSYS name changed to Heartland®, but we’re more committed than ever to give you the best products and service in the industry. Heartland has accumulated the depth of experience and knowledge necessary to offer and support the most innovative card processing solutions available. And we continually develop new technology to help keep your business competitive in the future.

You have questions. Heartland has answers. Check out our FAQs to learn something new about credit card processing.

Credit card processing jargon is defined in the simplest of terms.

Read about merchant accounts, merchant services and other payment processing topics.


We compiled a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions about merchant accounts, credit card processing, and the services and products we offer.

How do I apply?

You can apply here.

Do I need a business license?

Requirements vary according the level of risk associated with your business. A business license is one way to fulfill the premise inspection requirement, but other forms of documentation are acceptable. Speak to a Heartland representative for more information.

Do I need a business checking account?

Yes, if the business entity is a corporation. If you are a sole proprietor, you may use either your business or personal checking account.

What if I have less than perfect credit?

Technically, your personal credit score does not affect your merchant account rates. But you may not be eligible for an account if you have a low credit score.

What credit cards will I be able to accept?

You will be setup to accept Mastercard®, Visa® and bank ATM debit cards. You can also apply for American Express® and Discover® at the same time, but both require a setup fee.

Can I use a smartphone or tablet to process credit cards?

Heartland offers processing solutions that allow businesses of any size to accept payments with a tablet or smartphone. You can consolidate all of your payment acceptance methods – cash, checks, credit and debit – into one system that processes transactions through a single gateway, giving you real-time access to all your payments from any location – in-store, online or mobile. Inventory information can be added to the system at the point-of-sale, and you have control over which employees can use the system and which functions are available to them. Updates and upgrades are self-directed from our easy application and require no special technician or IT assistance.

How will I get my money?

In a card payment transaction, Heartland receives authorization and passes it along to you so you can complete the sale and issue a receipt to the cardholder. The card issuer bills the cardholder's account and pays Heartland. Then Heartland deposits the transaction proceeds into your bank account, typically within two days, though this may take longer for high-risk businesses.

Can I contact customer support if I need help?

Yes! Our U.S.-based customer support team is available 24/7. You can reach our live merchant assistance department here.

Will I receive a statement?

Yes. Each month you will receive a detailed statement by mail and/or email that includes your payment information for the previous month, including all deposits, charges and total sales volume. You can also access your data online for the most up-to-date information.

Merchant Account Glossary of Terms

Knowing a few key terms can make it easier to select a merchant account for your business. Here are the definitions of the ones you are most likely to come across.


Acquiring Bank

An acquiring bank provides credit card merchant accounts. It’s a bank that has a relationship with Visa and Mastercard, as well as your bank, and is sometimes referred to as the clearing bank. The acquiring bank is responsible for clearing transactions after they are charged to a cardholder by making deposits into a bank account when credit cards are processed.


This term describes the process of validating funds available on a credit or debit card. It is done at the time the transaction is entered or swiped through a point-of-sale terminal. When you process a credit card transaction, a response comes back from the issuing bank in a few seconds. An authorization is either approved or declined by the issuing bank.

If the authorization is approved, that means funds are available to be withdrawn from the customer’s account and added to your bank account. When an authorization is approved, a six- or seven-digit authorization code is provided, along with the Address Verification Service (AVS) response. If no authorization is given, this is a declined transaction because there is either not enough money in the customer’s bank account (if a debit card) or the customer has reached their credit card limit.

Average Ticket Size

Average ticket size refers to the average dollar amount of your credit card transactions. Average ticket size is always asked when you set up a new merchant account. If you don’t yet process credit cards, simply estimate your average credit card sale. Keep in mind that the average credit card transaction is typically higher than the average cash transaction. If you already process credit cards, divide your total monthly volume by the number of transactions to determine your average ticket size.

Address Verification Service/AVS

Address Verification Service (AVS) is required for all card-not-present (keyed) credit card transactions. At the time of the transaction, enter the street address and ZIP code along with the card number, expiration date and amount. When the transaction is submitted for authorization, the address and ZIP code are checked against the billing address and ZIP code of the cardholder. The AVS response is provided by the issuing bank and the result is either a match, partial match, no match or AVS not available/error.

You can use this information to control fraud. For example, if the address and ZIP code do not match, it would be prudent for you to contact the cardholder before shipping expensive merchandise. There is a small cost for AVS, but it is usually incorporated into the transaction fee. To help reduce the risk of chargebacks, you should use AVS anytime a card is not present and for all online orders.



Basis Points

Basis points are the percentage that you are charged on a credit card transaction. One basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1%. Thus a rate of 2.33% is equivalent to 233 basis points. The term is often used in regard to rates. For example, 75 basis points is the same as saying 0.75%.

Batch or Batch Processing

A batch is a collection of transactions, usually a single day’s worth. Batch processing refers to closing or settling an entire batch of transactions at one time. The point-of-sale terminal or credit card processing software can be set on manual batch close or automatic batch close.

Manual batch close requires you to batch out at the end of each day. This sends a command to the processor to settle all transactions that have been entered. Once a batch is settled, a report is printed showing the transaction totals in the batch. Before a batch is settled, changes can be made to existing transactions in the batch. For example, you may want to void a transaction or change the amount. Restaurants often change the transaction amount to adjust for tips that need to be included before the batch is closed.

Automatic batch close does not require manual assistance. Instead, the terminal or software will automatically close the batch (settle all the transactions) at a certain time each day. In some cases, the processor will settle the batch at the processor level (host batch close). Most businesses use automatic batch close option unless a tip edit function is needed, in which case manual batch close is typically the better option. Many processors charge a fee each time a batch is closed.



Card Not Present (CNP)

A payment card transaction where the cardholder and card are not physically present. For example, an online or mail or telephone order.

Card Present

A transaction where the cardholder and payment card are both present. Sometimes referred to as a face-to-face transaction.


Occurs when a cardholder disputes a transaction with the card issuer. The issuer initiates a retrieval request against you, and the disputed amount is withdrawn from your account until the matter is settled. You are given 10 days to dispute the chargeback with proof of purchase or delivery. The merchant account provider imposes a chargeback fee as part of the process.



Discount Fee

A percentage fee charged by a merchant account provider to its clients for processing services, plus interchange and assessments paid directly to the credit card brands and issuing banks.




Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system used by state governments in the U.S. to provide financial and material benefits via debit card, such as unemployment assistance and supplemental food benefits.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is an automated transfer of funds using an electronic medium.


The process of translating data into secret code to facilitate secure transmission. An effective way to help ensure data security, it is also referred to as end-to-end encryption (E2EE).




A fee that is set by the credit card brands and paid to their member banks. Interchange is charged to credit card processors, who pass the cost along to you as part of the discount fee. It makes up the largest portion of credit card processing fees.

Issuing Bank

A bank or financial institution that is a licensed member of a credit card network. It provides cardholders with a line of credit for purchases or cash advances and is responsible for reimbursing an acquirer for purchases made by the cardholder. The issuing bank then bills the cardholder.



Merchant Account Provider/Merchant Services Provider/Merchant Acquirer

The entity that provides you with the products and services needed to process payment cards. The provider also acts as an intermediary between you and the issuing banks and credit card networks and is responsible for depositing proceeds into your bank account.



Over-Limit Fee

A fee charged by your processor when you exceed your pre-determined processing volume.



Payment Gateway

Software on a third-party provider’s server that handles the transmissions between you and your processor that are required to complete an electronic transaction.


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) are a set of requirements established by the credit card networks to protect cardholder information and reduce the risk of data theft. The standards apply to you, merchant account providers, issuing banks and the credit card networks. Meeting these requirements is known as being PCI compliant.

PCI Non-Validation Fee

A fee charged to you if you fail to return a PCI Compliance Validation Certificate, which can be obtained by completing and passing an annual Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and/or Quarterly Network Scan if you electronically store cardholder information or your application systems are connected to the internet.



Real-Time Processing

The ability to approve or decline a payment card transaction in seconds while the customer waits.


Retrieval is the first step in the chargeback process. In a disputed transaction, the issuing bank requests a copy of the physical sales ticket for the transaction in question.



Virtual Shopping Cart

A program that is integrated into a website and makes it possible for shoppers to keep a running tally of products and services they plan to purchase. At checkout, the shopping cart connects to a secure payment page where customers complete their purchase with a payment card.


Merchant Processing Basics

Whether you’re new to the world of small business credit card processing or an old pro with years of experience, there are likely to be aspects of the industry that are unfamiliar to you. Heartland is ready to assist with a library of helpful articles that explain what you need to know in easy-to-understand terms.

From the basics of merchant accounts, merchant services and accepting credit card payments to more advanced information about electronic payment systems, credit card swipe readers, virtual terminals and online credit card processing, Heartland has you covered.

When you’re ready to know more about credit card payment systems, Heartland is ready to help. Fill out the form on this page and one of our trained consultants will be in touch to help you through the application process.

Ready to get started?

We can’t wait to talk about what Heartland Payments can do for your business.

Yes, I'd like to receive updates from Heartland Payment Systems. By signing up, I agree to the Heartland Payment Systems Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.