Finding the Right Provider: How to Choose a Merchant Service Provider

Cashier hand holding a Credit card over EDC machine or credit card terminal with calculator and glasses.

Americans are moving away from cash for purchases. In fact, up to 50 percent of people who responded to a survey stated they avoid carrying cash. When they do take cash along, 76 percent stated they have less than $50 on them.

As a business owner, you need to pay attention to these statistics. It’s absolutely essential you have a merchant service provider so you can accept credit and debit card payments.

If you are still searching for a merchant service provider, then use the tips found here. This information can help you find the right company for your needs.

What Are Merchant Services?

Before diving into how to find the right merchant service provider, it’s a good idea to fully understand what this type of account offers. It accommodates a merchant’s business so it can accept credit, debit, and gift cards, along with other electronic modes of payment.

If you want to accept cards, then you have to have a merchant account. Now it’s time to dive in and figure out what to look for when searching for this service provider.

Tips for Finding the Right Merchant Service Provider

Regardless of what type of business you run, there are several important features business owners need to consider when they begin comparing credit card processing companies. Some of the specific factors are listed here.

Support

One of the main considerations to keep in mind when evaluating credit card merchant services is if they can provide the help you need when it’s needed. Smooth, fast payments are one of the main factors that come into play when it comes to customer satisfaction.

This means you want to find a merchant services processing company that has your back, regardless of the situation. This can make a huge difference in the success of your business.

Reliability

Processing up-time is absolutely essential to keep your business running properly and smoothly. The more card payments you process, the more revenue you may lose if the network goes down.

It’s important to find a merchant services credit card processing service with a long and proven track record of reliability. It’s also a good idea to find one that has proven systems in place to address outages when they occur.

While a processor can’t stop all outages, such as ones with the card brands, they can have a plan in place to help mitigate the losses their customers stand to lose. This is the type of service provider you want to work with.

Security

Securing sensitive data is absolutely essential for your business if you accept credit card payments. It doesn’t matter if you have a small, medium, or a large business, you have to maintain the same security standards.

You are the one who is responsible for ensuring that your processing company utilizes the properly needed compliance and required security standards. Some of the standards to look for include:

  • End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
  • Three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV2)
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard

Make sure to ask about these particular standards, and if a processing company does not implement them, it may be a good idea to continue your search elsewhere.

Processing Fees

The fee a merchant services credit card processing company charges can vary from one company to another. Also, there are certain factors that are going to impact the fees.

For example, the type of card used, and technology used for the transaction all impact the fees. Also, the rate charge for manually typing a number into the terminal and swiping the card differs.

There are also different types of merchant accounts available for different businesses including telephone, mail-order, and online setups. The standard types of fees you are going to be charged include:

  • The gateway fee
  • A statement fee (the industry standard is approximately $10)
  • A monthly minimum (if you fail to meet the minimum, some companies charge more)
  • Average discount rates (the percentage of a sale that the processor retains)
  • Transaction fees (the fixed amount charged for every transaction)
  • Address verification fee (this is a per-transaction fee charged for verification of a customer’s address)

Remember, the fees charged and the amount they cost is going to vary from one business to another. So, it’s a good idea to compare the fees of several companies before making a decision.

Simple Contracts

When you choose a merchant services credit card processing company, you are going to have to enter into a written agreement with them. Before signing, make sure you look closely at the contract’s specifics.

Some of the important things to take note of include the contract length, early termination or cancellation fees, and any additional fees for support. Be sure to look for transparency in the fees too, so you know what you must pay and what’s optional.

If you have a new business, then a no-term or shorter-term contract is best.

Take Your Time to Find the Best Merchant Services Provider

As you can see, there are several things you need to look for when trying to choose a merchant service to begin accepting credit card payments. Be sure to take your time and evaluate all the options to find the one that best suits your needs.

If you want to feel confident you are working with a quality merchant services provider, then be sure to contact us. Our partner can provide you with the processing services you need and ensure you get the terms and fees that work for you and your business.

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