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      • 45. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
        New Member

        Hi, I would also like the '$30 cash back' but paying $120 to get $30 is my point.. Owning just 2 vacation rentals, I do not have the resources to accept Visa etc. directly. I'm not adding a fee to Mastercard, Visa, I am paying a fee. I pay an intermediary, PayPal, Google, who in return for their service, charges me. I have no idea what card the guest is using - only a Google email notice to me that payment and card have been accepted (within minutes). Some cards are not accepted from overseas. This is what Google Checkout accepts: .American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Solo*, Visa, Visa Electron*. *Accepted only in the United States. **Accepted outside of the United States along with Visa and MasterCard.  

        One day there will be a 'free' service I think the owner of Virgin is working on a low cost one now. PayPal makes millions on what is held day to day in their accounts. Another plus for Google users, unlike PayPal (which charges 1/2% more than Google), Google sweeps your credit card proceeds directly in to your bank account within days - yes, you do nothing. All the best, Jim 

        • 46. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
          Active Contributor

          Yes, Jim, I know ... that is exactly WHY I would like to charge a fee for credit cards .... to prevent people from using their cards, just to get the perk.


          So YES, as I said before, I would LOVE to upcharge people for using credit cards.  It makes so much sense!!!  The problem I've had is that the credit card companies do not allow us to charge these extra fees. 



          Here are some HomeAway articles related to this.






          And here is a thread from the HomeAway community, including a post from me, that explores this topic in detail.




          Jim, you should check the above links. 


          I checked into Google checkout, and it looks good ... I like that they accept American Express cards (which, I believe, are not currently accepted by PPI or Homeaway.)


          However, I don't see that Google Checkout provides some kind of work-around for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover's rules.  As far as I know, the 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee, would be considered as the fees charged for doing a credit card transaction. Visa / MasterCard / Discover (if you accept all three, which you do, because Google Checkout accepts all three) will not let you charge an add-on fee for this.


          I do not process credit cards directly, either .... I use PPI and the HomeAway reservation system, which are merchant payment services which seem (to me, I could be wrong) very similar to Google checkout.  When I talked with the representative from PPI, back in 2010, I mentioned that I planned to charge a fee for those paying with credit card, as the percent being quoted for me was 3.5% or 4.5%.  I didn't want to be losing that much money for guests paying with credit card.  Especially when some of these guests could have just as well sent me a personal check, at no cost to me.   The representative promptly informed me that this is not allowed by the credit card companies.  Then I did some research and found out that he was correct.




          Please see the above link for some of the research I've done.

          For those interested in Google checkout, I have pasted some info about the program (below).


          In more bad news (sorry!!!), I noticed that Google checkout expressly states that it is for tangible and digital goods, unless you're a non-profit organization.  I contacted Google and they told me that "rent" is not counted as a "tangible good" and is not covered by their chargeback guarantee.


          So I really like Google checkout, but as of right now, I'm not sure if it's a good fit for vacation rentals.  I don't mean to be a wet blanket ... I'll get back to you if I find some more uplifting, positive news!   






          Merchant overview


          Google Checkout is an alternative checkout flow you can use to  process sales. While Checkout is designed primarily for transactions  involving tangible and digital goods, you may also process transactions  for services, subscriptions, and donations (if your organization is  501c3 tax-exempt). All transactions must abide by our content policies. Google Checkout cannot be used as a person to person money transfer service at this time.


          Buyer overview


          For buyers, Google Checkout is a fast, secure, and convenient way to  shop online. Google Checkout makes online shopping easy by providing a  single login for purchases across the web.


          Acceptable forms of payment


          Google Checkout accepts major credit and debit cards, including VISA,  MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Buyers enter their credit  or debit card information when they first sign up for Google Checkout  and can select their preferred payment type during checkout.




          Google Checkout is available to U.S. and U.K. merchants. U.S. Google  Checkout merchants must have a U.S. bank account and U.S. address, plus  either of the following:


          • A Social Security number (optional) and a valid credit card
          • A Federal Tax ID/Employer Identification Number (EIN)


          Buyers from many other countries outside the United States and United  Kingdom can also sign up for the service and make purchases through  Google Checkout. While their purchases will always be processed in the  currency matched to your address (U.S. dollars for U.S. merchants or  Pounds Sterling for U.K. merchants), buyers' credit cards will usually  provide seamless currency conversion. Check the Location drop-down menu on the sign-up page to see if Google Checkout is available in your buyer's location.


          Merchants in Argentina*, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil*,  Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel*,  Italy, Japan, Mexico*, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,  Russia*, Singapore, Spain, South Korea*, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan*,  United Kingdom, and the United States can also use Google Checkout to  sell applications on Android Market.

          • 47. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
            New Member

            Hi, Thank you for your information. 501c3 tax-exempt pertains soley to donations and not services, subscriptions. and digital goods. There are many services like PayPal, Google, Vacation Rental Sites, and others who charge you and I above and beyond the fees already paid to Visa, Matercard, etc.. "The problem I've had is that the credit card companies do not allow us to charge these extra fees". As the owner of just 2 condos with a sliver of transactons via credit card over a yearly period, it appears the persons 'double dipping' here are the credit card cos. collecting % fees from the likes of PayPal etc. as well as an added flat fee. "Jim, I'm not sure what Visa and MasterCard might do, if you they find that you are not following their rules?" They would have to contact our contracted intermediary, Google Corp.. As you mentioned, with the Google .30 cents added to their 3-4% transaction fee, we have taken a minimal loss on every single

            transaction - again only minimal. I am of the opinion Visa / Mastercard are happy to take our business, no matter how miniscule. Best regards, Jim


            • 48. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
              Active Contributor

              I agree Jim ... we (the vacation rental owners) would not be "double dipping" if we were to charge a % fee for our guests.  It only makes sense that we would pass these costs along to our customers.   (And ... as a customer, if I really needed to use a credit card, I wouldn't mind paying a 3% or 4% fee ... if that was my only option because I was international and couldn't send a check or whatever ... so be it .. I'd pay it.)


              The problem is, the credit card companies do not allow us (the vacation home owners) to upcharge for using credit cards.  They allow us to provide a discount to people who do not use credit card, but they do not allow us to create an upcharge, meaning that the people using credit cards are actually paying something HIGHER than our posted / advertised prices.


              Jim, the credit card companies would argue that the reason your credit card transactions are such a small percentage of your business, is because you are upcharging the customers for using a credit card.  This is what the credit card companies DO NOT WANT.  They want all of our customers (or as many as possible) to use credit cards so they get all sorts of nice "processing fees" which they are collecting from US.


              That's their business model, and that's why they have set up their rules that way.

              • 49. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                New Member

                Thank you sfvacationhut. Agree with you completely. I used to have a few apartment rentals and the state law prohibited a 'late' fee. So...if our lease agreement stated that the monthly rent was $525 due by the 5th of the month, but if paid by the 4th - $500. Kind of a reverse upcharge. You may decide to discount your rental if you find more rental action via credit card - 98% of our guests pay 30 days in advance by personal check.

                Perhaps we should go nonprofit - anyone making a profit on their place (if mortgaged). HOA dues, special hoa assesment fees, utilities, property tax, ins., mortgage, maintenance, market devaluation - in 7 years we've never made money. I hope Visa / MasterCard don''t come knocking at my 12 yr. old daughter's bedroom window where my office is Jim    

                • 50. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                  Active Contributor

                  I have some good news about Google Checkout.


                  Although most of their literature would lead you to believe otherwise, as of September 14, 2009 (nearly 2 years ago), Google has updated their policy as follows:


                  Update to Checkout content policies

                  Monday, September 14, 2009

                  At Google Checkout, we regularly review our program and content policies  to keep them current and effective. In response to the feedback we've  received from users, we're pleased to announce that we made a change to  our content restrictions. Going forward, Google Checkout will allow the  sale of real estate rentals, timeshares, and day sight-seeing tours.


                  Google  Checkout sellers of real estate rentals, timeshares, and day  sight-seeing tours must have a valid public business URL. The sellers  may, however, choose to use either Checkout buttons or Checkout invoices  to process transactions for the above allowable services based on their  business requirements. Please visit our

                  Help Center

                  to learn more about our content policies.


                  Posted by Sameer Abdul, Checkout Operations




                  So ... it looks like Google check-out is a perfectly okay way to process payments for vacation rentals.


                  Yahoo!  I'm glad to give my guests another payment option.

                  Being able to accept American Express for only 2.9% processing fee (at Google Checkout), that's a pretty good deal!



                  • 51. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                    mike-dfv CommunityAmbassador

                    While I agree that I'd like to be able to pass the credit card charges on to my renters, none of my competitors do. It is such a competitive market that I could lose renters if I were to do so.


                    To do so, however, would wording like this be in accordance with the credit card company agreements? (Numbers are basic to keep math easy.)


                    Subtotal: $100.00

                    Taxes: $10.00

                    Total: $110.00


                    This is the discounted price for cash or check. To pay full price by credit card, add $4.40 (4%)



                    • 52. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                      Active Contributor



                      Check out the links to the Merchant ****** info I provided in the post in this thread:




                      The advertised price needs to be the full price.


                      From what I have read ... what would be squeaky clean / definitely okay (per the credit card companies' policies) would be something like the following.


                      Posted / Advertised Rate: $104.40

                      Taxes (10%): $10.44

                      Total: $114.84


                      Cash / Check transactions qualify for a discount of 4.215%.


                      From what I have read, the above would be A-OK, if you want to be 100% following the rules.


                      (Note that your discount would need to be approximately 4.215% (not 4.4%) to get your cash / check rate to be the originally intended $100.00.)


                      But along the lines of what you're suggesting Mike .... one thing I've wondered about, is what if we were to have a "booking fee" that was written up like a "cleaning fee" or any other standard part of the reservation policy?  


                      For example ... When owners charge separate cleaning fees, it makes their nightly or weekly or monthly rate APPEAR less expensive than it really is, when people are scrolling through and comparing prices of listings.   Some owners include the cleaning fee in their rate (and therefore charge a higher rate), and other people tack it on later (and therefore their rates appear lower).  Just playing devil's advocate here .... one could say that charging a separate cleaning fee is a sneaky way for vacation home owners to make their rates APPEAR lower than what they really are.  But it's a standard practice, and nobody complains about it, from what I can see.   (I'm not complaining about it either; in fact, I'm using it as an example of something that is considered to be an OK thing to do.)


                      So ... what if we took this same concept and created a "booking fee" which was a standard part of the process, just like the cleaning fee, and it's something that's added on, IN ADDITION to the advertised rates that people see when they scroll through the listings?  Then we would say that this fee can be waived for people paying with cash or check.  I wonder if that would work?   So far I have been too afraid to risk any problems with the Big Guys (the credit card companies) ... so that's why I haven't tried it yet.


                      But ... if we could really do it ... Mike, it would be very similar to what you posted above, but tweaked slightly ...


                      Posted / Advertised Rate: $100.00

                      Standard Booking Fee (4.4%): $4.40

                      Taxes (10%): $10.44

                      Total: $114.84


                      Note that the standard booking fee can be waived for cash / check transactions.


                      This is what I'd like to to do!  I just don't know if it would be allowed.  Maybe eventually I'll get the courage to call the credit card companies and ask them if this is permissible, per their policies.   Or  I wonder if there is some other way to find out. ??

                      • 53. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                        Senior Contributor

                        I have a potential renter who is not comfortable giving me her credit card information. ( I only accept credit cards for anyone wanting to reserve less than 30 days prior to their date of arrival).


                        I have chosen not to use Pay Pal ( costs too high). I will not accept personal checks for  rentals made less than 30 days  becaue I've found that banks often take 2  weeks to notify of INF.

                        • 54. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                          Senior Contributor

                          Replying to my own last post:  

                          BTW- I have used Frontline Processing for my credit card processing for a few years and I pay less than 2% for my transactions. They are reputable and I've had no problems , even with charge backs. 


                          Of ocurse, those renters using Rewards cards cost me a bit more, but not much.

                          • 55. Re: Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                            mike-dfv CommunityAmbassador

                            Your idea has potential, sf. Like you, I don't want to risk calling the credit card companies, but trying to interpret their legalese can be mind blowing.


                            Deb, have you tried using HA's Reservation Manager? Then your potential guest could enter their credit card information online.



                            • 56. Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning

                              We have a rental that is available year round and our rates for summer are a minimum of $4500/week, off season is $500/night.  We only accept checks.  We send out the rental agreement via a pdf email attachment and request that the rental agreement and deposit, usually about $3000, be returned within 2 weeks or so.  To my knowledge, the fact that guests must have a large sum of $ ready to go to make the reservation has never been a problem for any of our guests.  We have always been well-booked and a waiting list in place for the summer should there be a cancellation.

                              • 57. Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                                Active Contributor

                                Smiley, it's good that you stay mostly booked up, without having to take credit cards.

                                I despise the idea that I'm lining the pockets of the same credit card companies whose unscrupulous practices encourage people to spend spend spend, go into debt, and even go bankrupt!!    And then our tax payer money goes to bail out these crooks ! 


                                So it's awesome that you don't take credit cards.

                                I would love to be able to do the same thing.

                                Fight DA MAN!  Know what I'm sayin' !! 


                                But ... we're in San Francisco, and a good portion of our travelers are tourists, arriving from international destinations  ... and that's why we can't do it all by personal check.  How do you handle transactions for your international travelers?


                                And of course ...while I despise the credit card companies for their unscruplous practices ... on the other hand, I like to provide as many options for payment as possible, to make things easier for people trying to book with us.  And ... I myself use credit cards to get points / cash rebates !!!   So I must say, my feelings are conflicted on this matter! 


                                Since starting our own vacation rental business, and learning more about credit cards and the fees they charge to the merchants ... I have been making an effort to bring my checkbook and pay with check when I buy things from local businesses.  It feels wrong for me to use a credit card just to get points, when I know that the small business owner is getting socked with fees .... fees that the credit card company uses to pay me those points / rebates.  These small business owners are the heartbeat of what makes San Francisco so vital and special .... THANKFULLY, we haven't been completely overrun by corporations, yet.  So ... I am making small steps to change my personal habits.  I definitely feel good when I can pay by check while shopping at local businesses.


                                But then I am conflicted again, with the general concept of credit cards ... because it really does seem important to give our customers as many payment options as possible.  We want to make the booking process as easy and stress-free as possible for them.


                                Smiley, any tips you can provide ... .would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you!

                                • 58. Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning

                                  We have just the one house and it is not in a location that would be of high interest/draw to international guests.  In fact, when we've had an international guest it is only when they are a family member of the individual with whom we have the rental agreement so there is no problem.  Sounds like I should count my blessings that our life is so "uncomplicated" -when it comes to rental payment anyway  :-) 

                                  • 59. Accepting Credit Card Payments - A Warning
                                    New Member

                                    Hi everyone - I'm a newbie, wet-behind-the-ears, naive and about 45 days into vrbo/homeaway. I've only had small issues (corrections to home location & # of baths).  Tonight I was online trying to find out why the "Inquiry tap" dried up on 6-30-11 even though the site visits have reached over 600, (during the 1st 15 days of advertisement, we booked all of July). 


                                    Anyway, after reading aznative's horrific story (az, just remember, God will bless you), I wonder if my non-inquiry status is a blessing.  We set up the on-line credit card account that HA advertised and have had no problems so far.  We also set up the damage deposit insurance they advertised - since our rentals have been short-term 1 week or less so far, we ask for a $50 non-refundable deposit from our guests.  Once we receive confirmation of funds, I request the $49 damage insurance on behalf of our guests ($49 covers up to $3000 in damages, including unreturned keys, etc). So far I've had no reason to process a claim!  I think this method leaves us less vulnerable to would-be scammers.


                                    I'm sure most or all of you speak with your guests during the reservation process, just like I do. I think we all have a certain "internal feeling" - call it a gut feeling or intuition during that conversation & that's when we determine whether our property is available or not.  Fortunately, unlike aznative, I have not had schemers or scammers.  Instead, every group has left our home clean and undamaged (dishes washed and put away, grills cleaned, garbage set out at the curb) - one family even mopped the tile and vacuumed the carpet!


                                    Ok, so it's only been a month & I have been really blessed!  My question is, can't we band together and create a list of "proven undesirable tenants"?  So, all of us don't experience the same "snakes" over again. I'm sure there is a law to prevent ah from setting up such a site, but well , what if we established a state/city/zip code site to list these varmits?


                                    Just my 2cents (& a dollar for my long-windedness),


                                    Coolchick in Texas

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