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Travel Payment Processing

The travel industry presents a unique set of challenges for businesses trying to secure merchant services. The needs of a business in the travel industry can vary greatly from one segment to the next. As a result, finding high-risk merchant account services in this industry can be tough.

Most businesses in the travel industry are classified as high-risk, making it difficult and more costly to secure banking services. At Merchant Marketing Services, our team of specialists can help you build a customized plan for your tourism and travel business. If you’re looking for a solution for your travel payment processing issues, give us a call!

MMS serves clients in the travel industry from a variety of segments, including but not limited to:

  • Airfare Merchant Account Services
  • Car Rental Merchant Account Services
  • Cruise Merchant Account Services
  • Hotel Merchant Account Services
  • Resort Merchant Account Services
  • Sightseeing Merchant Account Services
  • Timeshare Merchant Account Services
  • Travel Club Merchant Account Services
  • Vacation Club Merchant Account Services

Each of these business models has a specific set of needs when it comes to payment processing. Finding a processor that can service those needs and has the best software can be challenging. At Merchant Marketing Services, we have a team of experts who can build a plan that is specific to your business and how you want to accept payments.

What is Travel Payment Processing?

Payment processing is the ability to accept payments from customers. In most industries, companies prefer to offer several options to their customers to pay for goods and services. Those options can include online payments, in-person payments, and payments over the phone or through a mobile app. Depending on the industry, some may depend more heavily on one specific payment type.

In addition to payment types, various segments of the travel industry will require different types of equipment to process those payments. For example, an airline may take most of their payments online and will need a robust virtual terminal to be able to process them. In contrast, a sightseeing merchant may do more transactions face-to-face at a kiosk and would require physical terminals to swipe cards and receive cash or checks. Most businesses offer a mixture of both.

The MMS experts can discuss your business needs with you to develop a plan for both virtual and physical equipment. MMS specializes in helping foreign corporations accept payments in the USA, including for travel businesses. We can also help you place that equipment in your business and ensure that it’s functional for you and your customers.

Unique Codes for International Travel Merchant Services

Every business requires a code or set of codes (MCC codes), for their merchant account that specifies their industry. Card networks use these codes to categorize transactions into different levels of risk. Setting up your merchant account incorrectly could be very costly to your business. In the international travel merchant industry, the most used MCC codes are:

  • 4112 – Passenger Railroads
  • 4131 – Bus Lines/Charter/Tour
  • 4411 – Steamship/Cruise Lines
  • 4511 – Airlines, Air Carriers
  • 4582 – Airports/Fields/Terminals
  • 4722 – Travel Agencies
  • 4789 – Transportation Services
  • 5962 – Direct Marketing – Travel Related Arrangements Services
  • 7011 – Hotels/Motels/Resorts*
  • 7012 – Timeshares
  • 7512 – Automobile Rental Agency*

*Most national Rental Car Agencies have a specific MCC in the 3300 or 3400 blocks.
*Most national Hotels and Motels have a specific MCC from the 3500 to 3800 blocks.

Using incorrect codes for your business could result in your merchant account being frozen or canceled. If you have concerns about how your business is categorized in your payment processing system, reach out to our team of experts. We can evaluate your current configuration and offer solutions for areas that may be incorrect or at-risk.

Types of Travel Merchant Account Payments

As mentioned previously, different merchants like to offer different payment types for their consumers. However, there are a handful of commonly used payment types that are prevalent throughout the travel industry. Here’s a brief overview of the types of payments a business may choose to offer, many of which can be done through the same travel merchant account.

Credit/Debit Cards

Most payments in the travel industry are made via credit and debit cards. These payments are often more expensive for the merchant than other types, but they are the most convenient for consumers. If you own a business today, accepting card payments is a must.


The American Clearing House (ACH) offers a type of payment that is 100% electronic but does not involve a credit or debit card. These transactions require a bank account number and routing number to process. They are the equivalent of direct deposit and direct debit in your bank account.


Electronic check payments are similar to ACH in that the customer needs to enter a bank account and routing number. These payments are designed to replace the use of paper checks but are processed in the same way. However, they take a lot less time than paper check payments and are more secure.


Crypto is growing in popularity as a payment option for businesses. As more and more consumers become comfortable using crypto, savvy businesses are adding it to their available options. This requires a virtual wallet that can hold a variety of crypto types, which gives your customer several different options to pay for goods and services.


Other payment types that are common in the travel industry include PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and other similar platforms. As a business owner, it’s up to you which ones you’d like to offer.

Credit Card Processing Fees

Knowing the fee structure of your payment processor and how much you’re being charged is the best way to keep your budget in line. Many merchants are intimidated by their invoices because they can be convoluted and difficult to understand. Here’s a breakdown of some of the fees you can expect to see on your high-risk travel merchant account statement, or when opening an account.

  • Discount Fee
  • Transaction Fee
  • Merchant Account Monthly Fee
  • Payment Gateway Transaction Fee
  • Payment Gateway Monthly Fee
  • Chargeback Fee (per occurrence)
  • Reserve (if required)
  • Application Fee (if required)

Discussing these fees with your current and potential processors will help you understand how they are structured. Every processor is different, so you’ll need to explore the topic with each processor you interview. At Merchant Marketing Services, we have a transparent fee structure that we’re happy to explain in detail. Our merchants all have different needs, so yours will be customized to your business.


One of the major concerns in the travel industry is what we refer to as a “chargeback”. This occurs when a consumer reports a charge to their credit card provider or bank, instead of to the merchant. When this happens, the bank can reverse the payment, give the money back to the consumer, and debit it from the merchant’s account.

This is a major concern for merchants for several reasons. Most of the purchases made in the travel industry are a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. High ticket transactions like these are one of the reasons why industries are labeled as “high-risk”. If a travel agency closes its doors, the customer will often file a chargeback, which is a pretty big risk to the bank in this case. Although it’s not a regular occurrence, it has happened enough times to classify the travel industry as a high-risk industry.

Another common cause of chargebacks is the lack of planning on the part of the customers. Although most travel agencies and merchants have specific refund policies in place, many customers don’t follow them. Instead, they often file chargebacks that directly affect the merchants’ bottom line.

Merchants Looking to Open Their Account Today!

Regardless of the challenges involved in payment processing for travel merchants, MMS can help! We offer consultations and services without excessive fees or headaches after having read hundreds of terms.

  • No application fees
  • Competitive Rates and Fees
  • Payment Gateway with easy shopping cart integration
  • Virtual Terminal available

With minimal documents and a simple application, most merchants can be approved in as little as 24 hours. Whether you have a pos or just need virtual terminal software, we can help.

Contact our travel payment processing professionals for more information or to start the application process and set up your travel merchant account today!