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Transit Provider FAQs


Merchant Account:

  1. What is a Merchant Account?
    A Merchant Account is a bank account established under agreement between an acceptor and a merchant acquiring bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. A Merchant account allows a business to accept payments with debit or credit card, such as the TRANServe Card.
     
  2. How do I set up a Merchant Account?
    You should be able to get a Merchant Account from your personal bank or through another financial institution that specializes in e-commerce. The information below may be needed at the time of setup.
    • Federal Tax ID / SSN if sole proprietor
    • Contact Information
    • Estimated number of van pool riders
    • Routing & Account # for depositing funds
    • Owner Information – Home Address, DOB, Phone Number
    • Possible credit check
       
  3. What if my bank can’t setup a Merchant Account?
    TRANServe has conducted research on several bank institutions that offer Merchant Accounts. For more information, contact TRANServe@dot.gov.
     
  4. What is a Merchant Category Code (MCC)?
    A MCC is a four digit number assigned to a business by Visa or Master Card. It is used to classify the business by the type of goods or services it provides. Public transportation providers have specific MCCs they use when selling transit passes.
    The TRANServe Card accepts the following Merchant Category Codes:
    • 4789 (Transportation Services)
    • 4131 (Bus Lines)
    • 4011 (Railroads)
    • 4111 (Commuter Transport, Ferries)
    • 4112 (Passenger Railways)
       
  5. How long does it take to obtain a Merchant Account?
    The average time it takes to set up a Merchant Account is 3-5 business days.
     
  6. What fees should I expect when setting up a Merchant Account?
    Fees vary based on the amount of risk your business poses to the bank or financial institution. Merchant Accounts often require "per transaction", authorization, setup, equipment and monthly fees. Early termination fees may also apply. Depending upon the contract that is setup with the bank institution, certain fees may be waived if you mention you are setting up a merchant account in order to accept the new TRANServe Card.

Receiving Payment:

  1. How do I accept a Visa payment with the TRANServe Card?
    Manual Payment: Manual Payment: A payment form is filled out that allows you to set up customers to have their bills charged to their Visa card automatically on a pre-determined date each month. Once automatic payments are established, you benefit from guaranteed payment and reduced customer service expenses.
    Online Payment: By adding a simple payment form, you can enable customers to pay you directly on your website. Repeat customers can even create accounts to save their payment information for fast and easy repeat payments.
    Offering customers an online payment form enables you to accept online payments through either of the ways mentioned above: credit card, debit card or echeck.
    Portable Readers: Using a data input device allows operators to process payment on the go, making it quick and easy to close out sales transactions. Credit card payments can be made on the spot by using a wireless terminal signal. Many laptops and cell phones can be integrated with this technology to be used as credit card readers.
     
  2. How does my business receive the funds cleared through a Merchant Account?
    Generally, it takes 1 business day for accounts associated with a Merchant Account to receive funds and 2-3 business days for non-associated accounts. If there are any credit challenges, the underwriters can apply an additional funding delay for approval. For specifics, please check with your bank institution.
     
  3. When are funds available on the TRANServe Card?
    Transit benefit funds are electronically deposited to a participant's TRANServe Card on the 10th day of each month.
     
  4. What happens if a participant’s transit benefit does not cover the full cost of his/her home to work to home commute?
    Transportation costs that exceed the amount of a participants transit benefit will need to be paid for with their personal funds.
     
  5. What is the process in returning excessive transit benefit funds?
    The Office of Management and Budget has designated the Department of Transportation (DOT) as the Lead Federal Agency to inform commercial entities and assist in the timely return of federal funds. Please use the following link for specific information on this process: https://www.transportation.gov/transerve/transit-benefit-policy

Merchant Category Code Restrictions:

  1. Why does the TRANServe Card have restrictions?
    The TRANServe Card is restricted to only allow purchases against approved transportation authority Merchant Category Codes (MCCs). Restricted MCCs are one control mechanism built into the TRANServe Card to address regulatory compliance. This means the TRANServe Card will be declined if used in the retail network. The restricted MCCs are used to safeguard the transit benefit from fraud, waste, and abuse.
     
  2. Can participants use the TRANServe Card for non-transit expenses?
    No. It is fraudulent to use the transit benefit for any purpose other than home to work to home commuting by means of mass transportation. Participants certify to this when they submit their transit benefit applications. Also, at each swipe of the TRANServe Card, participants are personally certifying that they are using the Card and the transit benefit in this manner.

    The use of the TRANServe Card authorizes transactions only to vendors that are identified as Transit Authorities through their Merchant Category Code (MCC).

Activation And Customer Service:

  1. Is the participant responsible for activating their TRANServe Card?
    Yes. Before the participant can use their TRANServe Card, they must call Customer Service at 1-800-341-6700. They will need to provide the TRANServe Card number to activate their card. This phone number is located on the card and on the card carrier in the envelope that contains the card. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and cardholder website will lead them through the brief activation process. 

  2. Note: TRANServe Cards do not have a monetary value until they are activated by the participant.
     
  3. How can participants check their TRANServe Card balance?
    Participants can check their account information online. The first time they access the website, they will be asked to register their account. They may also call Customer Service at the number on the back of the card. 
     
  4. What do participants do in the event of a lost, stolen, or damaged TRANServe Card?
    If a TRANServe Card is lost, stolen or damaged, participants should notify Customer Service (1-800-341-6700) to have their card cancelled. A replacement card will be issued and unused funds will be safe. In addition, the participant should notify their Point of Contact to ensure any funds remaining on the TRANServe Card are transferred to the new TRANServe Card.

TRANServe Card Expiration:

  1. When will TRANServe Cards expire?
    TRANServe Cards expire every three years on the last day of expiration month. New cards will be sent to the customers’ Agency Point of Contact for disbursement prior to the card expiration date.
     
  2. What if my customer is not re-issued a replacement for an expired card?
    If a customer or program participant does not receive a new card they may contact their POC and verify enrollment.
     
  3. Can I process old cards on the last day of expiration month?
    Yes, but, please note that processing time and errors as well as time zone differences may impact the timely accurate processing of your payment request when waiting until the day of the card’s expiration.
     
  4. Will the customers’ card number stay the same?
    No, replacement cards will have a new card number. All operators or related automated merchants need to update with their NEW card number prior to the 10th of the month following expiration to ensure successful transaction posting.
     
  5. Will the card expiration affect my daily operations?
    No, replacement cards will be distributed prior to expiration so as not to disrupt operations, and transactions can be processed in the same manner. However, please note that replacement cards will be updated with a NEW card number and each participant will have to activate the replacement card for funds to be available.
     
  6. Will there be a delay in my business receiving funds?
    No, it will still take one business day for accounts associated with a Merchant Account to receive funds and 2-3 business days for non-associated accounts.
     
  7. Is there anything that I need to do as a Transit Provider?
    No, the process will remain the same; transit benefit funds will continue to be electronically deposited to the TRANServe Card on its regular schedule. However, please be sure that you are processing a card with a valid expiration date to ensure successful transaction posting.
     
  8. How do I get current information and updates?
    Go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOT/subscriber/new?topic_id=USDOT_58 and subscribe for updates.
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2019
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