A merchant account provider gives small businesses the ability to accept credit and debit cards, and other forms of online and electronic payments for purchasing your products and services. Merchant account providers give your small business the ability to process credit card payments, online payments and mobile payments for your small business. Customers can make these payments face to face, via the phone, or through the internet. There are many available options in the current market for choosing a merchant account provider for your credit card processing. While having choice is helpful for comparison shopping, it can also at times be very overwhelming. Below are key points you should consider before choosing a credit card processor for your business:
1. Prioritize Your Needs
The first step is to understand exactly what you want out of your payment processor. Understand and focus on the factors that are most pertinent to your company. The most logical step is to scour around for a few merchant account service providers that specialize in your business needs. You might find a merchant account provider that offers cheap rates but does not operate within your business circles. Yes, they can promise to work with you but at the end, they will not be able to provide you with what you need as it is not one of their key expert areas.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
– How often do your customers ask to pay via credit cards?
– Does your small business need an emv card reader?
– Does your business need online payment gateway?
– Do you need mobile credit card processing?
– How large is your business? Is it a one-man operation?
– Do you want your retail business taken online or your online business taken offline?
These questions will help you narrow your search to a manageable number. From there, you can then focus on those few providers and use the following steps.
2. Inquire about the Companies
When you have narrowed down your search to perhaps 3-4 providers, take an in-depth look into them. Some of the key questions you need to ask are:
– Are their payment systems PCI-compliant? Ensure that the merchant account providers adhere to the security standards set by the credit card industry.
– Do they offer the full range of credit card processing services? When I expand my business, will I be forced to switch my providers?
– Ask what measures they have implemented to protect you from credit card fraud. What measures do they have in place to protect sensitive financial information?
– You also want to look for a provider that has a proven track record. Inquire on how long they have been in business – it is best to work with a reputable company
3. Request for a Contract
Most merchant account providers offer contracts that bind you for years. These contracts have very high cancellation fees for merchants looking to cancel before their contract is over. The process of cancelling with some providers is very complicated and expensive. Some providers also have hidden charges that the customer has to adhere to. If you are unhappy with your provider, you might get stuck with them for years. However, due to public complaints, some providers have started using month-to-month contracts
When looking for the best merchant account provider, look for one that offers month-to-month contracts. Be very clear with them from the beginning that you are looking for such a contract with no cancellation fee. Once the contract is drafted, double-check the terms and conditions before signing.
Some key questions to ask are:
– What is the contract length?
– Am I going to get penalized for early cancellation?
– Are there any other fees you should be aware of aside from the transaction fee?
4. Be mindful of Long-term Leasing Equipment Leases and the Payment Systems
Electronics such as iPhones and iPad’s are now a viable option for payment processing; some merchants still need traditional hardware such as PIN pads, credit card terminals, etc. to accept digital payments. If you are in need of credit card processing hardware, be very mindful of predatory equipment leases. Buying your own credit card processing equipment is cheaper than leasing it in the long run. However, merchant account providers do not want you to know this as leasing of these machines is very profitable to them. When you are signing your paperwork please read through all the provided documents. Some providers often include long-term leasing equipment leases with your merchant account paperwork. If you do sign this, you will be legally obligated to use their leasing services until the contract expires.
Another thing to consider before signing is whether the account providers use proprietary payment systems that clash with pre-existing online shopping carts. Use providers that have universally accepted payment systems in place – or at least ensure that the provider you are about to sign with uses processing technology that is compatible with your system.
5. Customer Care Services
Almost all credit card providers offer some sort of customer care support. Some providers only offer phone support during working hours. You should try use a provider that offers more than this, as you never know when you might need assistance. Many providers have tons of customer care services for their clients. Use providers that have at least two or three of these services: 24/7 support, FAQ section, Live chat, email ticketing, social media presence, and forums
Some of the key questions to ask yourself are:
– What sort of customer care services do I require?
– What sort of availability do I expect? Is 24/7 availability important to you? If you have an online store that services other parts of the world, then you will need to know that there is someone available to assist you in case of any complications
– What sort of reviews does their customer care service have? Is there positive feedback regarding their services? How do they react to negative complaints?
It might be tricky to find a provider that meets all the above-mentioned requirements. However, the most important thing is for you to find the right fit for you and your business. Remember; do not sign anything without reading it at least twice. With a bit of research and patience, you are guaranteed to find just the provider you need.