January 5, 2016
AMEX Has Replaced OnePoint With OptBlue
For years, Shift4 has provided small merchants with direct payment processing to American Express (AMEX) along with support for the AMEX OnePoint program. OnePoint catered to merchants that processed less than $500,000 (under a single tax ID) in AMEX charges each year. However, on November 1, 2015, the OnePoint program ended and AMEX began offering a new program called OptBlue. OptBlue provides smaller merchants with some of the same benefits as OnePoint, including same-day funding, a single point of contact for customer service and disputes, streamlined deposits, and one statement for all credit cards (AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover). Though there are similarities, there are also a few key differences that merchants should consider before deciding if AMEX OptBlue is a good fit for their business.
What Does the Change to OptBlue Mean to You?
Unlike the OnePoint program, OptBlue is an optional add-on service that is provided by your merchant acquirer (e.g., merchant bank, merchant services provider, or independent sales organization). The qualification requirements and the pricing structure for OptBlue are different from the OnePoint program, which could result in acquirers imposing new fees and payment processing changes on merchants.
Qualifying for OptBlue
Merchants that annually process less than $1M in AMEX charges qualify for OptBlue. Merchants with numerous locations can also qualify as long as there is a different tax ID for each location and those individual locations process less than $1M in AMEX charges (e.g., a merchant with 45 locations averaging $150K each for a total of $6.7M in annual AMEX volume).
Paying for OptBlue
If you sign up for OptBlue, Shift4 will continue to process and secure your AMEX credit card payments, but your acquirer will manage your AMEX account and deliver the program’s features to you. If you decide not to sign up for OptBlue, however, Shift4 will still provide direct processing to AMEX, which will help you avoid some fees associated with the new program.
When You Hear From Your Acquirer: Remember That You Have Choices
When your acquirer reaches out to you about OptBlue, they will likely emphasize the simplified payment processing features and offer an exceedingly low discount rate. While the discount rate may be lower than you currently pay for AMEX charges, beware of hidden fees that may vary month-to-month. Most merchants won’t see these fees until 3-6 months after they’ve signed up for the program. Perhaps the worst aspect of these fees is their unpredictability, potentially causing processing costs to fluctuate on a monthly basis.
You should not feel rushed into signing up for OptBlue, as you may end up with unexpected costs or other undesirable changes to your payment processing. There are benefits, such as having a single statement, but you should weigh whether or not it’s worth paying variable fees on a monthly basis to use the program. These variable, hidden fees could make it difficult to understand the program’s impact on your bottom line.
Shift4 Supports What’s Best for Your Business
Whichever choice you make regarding OptBlue, Shift4 is capable of supporting your AMEX payment processing. If you haven’t already heard about OptBlue from your acquirer, you may be hearing from them soon. Here are a few things to note:
- Shift4 Supports OptBlue. If your acquirer says that Shift4 does not support OptBlue, it’s false. We are certified to support OptBlue.
- You Don’t Have to Sign Up for OptBlue. You can decline OptBlue and continue to process AMEX credit cards directly through Shift4 at no additional cost. If your acquirer won’t allow direct processing to AMEX, we can assist you in moving to one who will. This is another one of the great benefits of our bank and processor neutrality.
- Your Acquirer May Be Pushy. Because AMEX has decided to work with acquirers to manage OptBlue accounts, the various acquirers are now competing with each other for new business. Some acquirers are simply moving their entire OnePoint portfolio over to OptBlue without fully advising merchants or telling them they have a choice as to whether they want to sign up for the program. The terms and conditions of these programs are different, and you absolutely do have a choice.
- Ask Questions. As always, we encourage you to ask your acquirer a lot of questions and to get the details in writing before making any decisions. Feel free to consult your business operations team, if you have one, or a legal advisor. You can also reach out to our Customer Support team and we’ll be happy to walk you through how a new agreement may impact your payment processing services.
- Your Acquirer May Try to Lock You Into Another Agreement. Your acquirer does not provide the bank and processor neutrality that we do, so they may try to sign you up for another agreement that locks you into a processor or another payment gateway. Sometimes, acquirers share false information in order to convince merchants to sign up for agreements that may not deliver the level of service that is best for your business and may also come with hidden fees.
If you have any questions or if you need more detailed information, please call Shift4’s Customer Support team at 702.597.2480 (option 2) or email [email protected].