By Rich McIver

Opening a merchant account as a new or existing business can be overwhelming and confusing. Aside from negotiating the best credit card processing rates for your business, it’s important to be aware of undisclosed free features available to you by many credit card processors. There are several features that could save you hundreds in the long term, or increase your businesses productivity. On that note, here are four new features you can get free if you know to ask.

1. Free Gratuity Calculations

Many credit card processors can now provide merchants with receipts that include suggested gratuity calculations. This feature is usually not automatically set up on merchant accounts, but will be provided at no cost if asked for.

New research shows that customer tips typically increase when provided with pre-calculated amounts visible on their receipts. This can be greatly beneficial for businesses geared towards receiving gratuity from customers, as well as businesses who do not typically ask for gratuity. It is more likely that a customer will leave a tip if his or her receipt provides a spot for one, and even more likely if the gratuity amount is calculated for them.

2. No Signature Required Program

For businesses who process transactions on average of $25 or less, it could be beneficial to participate in a no-signature-required program. This service allows customers to make credit card purchases of $25 or less without signing a receipt, in turn saving time at the cash register.

Many merchants are not aware that this option is available free through their credit card processor. This feature can end up saving busy merchants and customers time at point of sale, and boost efficiency processing small-ticket transactions.

In addition, businesses who qualify for this service eliminate the need to retain transaction receipts and eliminate the requirement of providing customers with receipts, unless requested by the cardholder. Processors will usually include protection from chargebacks for this service set by the credit card brand.

3. Lower Amex Rates

American Express has introduced a new program called OptBlue, which allows merchant card processors the opportunity to set and adjust pricing based on wholesale rates provided by Amex. This new role for processors is not available under the older AmEx OnePoint program, which disadvantages merchants who desire to find competitive Amex rates.

As a result of the legacy higher rates that many businesses still pay, many merchants choose to simply not process Amex payments or are not aware of OptBlue and continue to process under the old OnePoint program rates. Your credit card processor will easily be able to switch you from OnePoint to an OptBlue program and negotiate the processing rates. This option is great for merchants who want to increase customer conversation rates or lower their Amex discount fees.

4. Discover ON US

Qualified merchants can now enroll into the Discover ON US program through most credit card processors. This program allows merchants who have had no Discover card transactions processed for the last 6 months, to process Discovery cards at no cost for 12 months. This is a great feature that many merchants are not aware is available for free through their processor. This program is a great way of determining whether your business could benefit from processing Discover payments in the long run, and in the short run, gives you wildly discounted pricing.

Finding ways to save your business in credit card processing fees, and discovering new ideas for accommodating customers is important for independent business owners. The majority of transactions processed today by merchants are completed by credit card, so taking advantage of free opportunities provided by your credit card processor can produce positive growth for your business. Don’t feel uncomfortable to ask your merchant card processor to go over your free card processing options.